High Court: Make North Campus pavements disabled friendly in 4 weeks

The Delhi High Court today directed the AAP government, police and municipal corporation of north Delhi to take immediate action to make pavements in Delhi University’s North Campus disabled friendly within four weeks.

The high court issued the direction after noting that pavements on the campus were “clearly inaccessible” to people with disabilities, especially those who were visually impaired, because of obstacles such as traffic lights, police posts, trees and shops in the middle of footpaths.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar made the observation after examining photographs and a report filed by a non-profit organisation which works on health and education facilities for people with disabilities and the underprivileged.

The organisation had inspected 40 sites on the campus on the orders of the court to ascertain whether pavements were accessible to the disabled, especially the visually impaired.

After going through the photographs and the report, the court noted that a majority of the obstructions were “bang in the middle” of the tactile paths meant for the visually impaired, which could lead to injuries, and at some places hand rails were installed “randomly and aimlessly”.

The court said the obstructions showed the “disinterested attitude” of the authorities who were not bothered about matters such as tactile markings because these benefited only a small section of the population.

In its order, the bench directed the Delhi government’s Public Works Department (PWD), the corporation and the police to interact with the Chief Architect (Roads) of the New Delhi Municipal Council and come out with a plan to ensure the streets and pavements of North Campus were made disabled-friendly within four weeks.

It asked the non-profit organisation, Nipman Foundation, to re-inspect the sites after four weeks.

On payment to the Foundation for its work, the corporation cited reservations in disbursing Rs 10,000 to each of the eight member of the team which had carried out the inspection.

This led the court to remark that the corporation was “cribbing over Rs 80,000”.

The bench then directed the PWD, corporation and DU to pay Rs 30,000 each to the Foundation for its services, saying it was the responsibility of the three authorities to ensure the streets and pavements of North Campus were disabled friendly.

The directions and observations by the court came while hearing a PIL alleging that the tactile markings on pavements on the campus, especially outside prominent colleges such as the Hindu College, were obstructed by police posts, bus stops, trees, poles, holes, hoardings and signboards.

The petition sought that the campus be made more disabled friendly.

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