The Tamil Nadu Information Commission has asked for information about buses, customised to meet the needs of persons with disabilities and elderly passengers, to be provided to a petitioner, L. Muruganantham
The Tamil Nadu Information Commission has directed the State Transport Department to provide details of buses that have been customised to meet the travelling requirements of persons with disabilities and elderly passengers.
After his petition — seeking details about public transport buses in the State that were customized to comply with the harmonised guidelines and space standards for barrier-free built environment for persons with disabilities and elderly passengers — was tossed, L. Muruganantham of Dharapuram in Tirupur district, a person suffering from a disability (muscular dystrophy), moved the Commission.
The petitioner wrote to the State Transport authorities seeking information on the number of buses that were accessible as per the December 2017 directions of the Supreme Court. He requested a copy of the compliance report submitted by the State in March 2018 that 10% of the government-owned public transport carriers were made fully accessible.
Mr. Muruganantham also wanted to know whether conductors and drivers were taught to promote values of inclusion and given training on disability rights, tolerance, empathy and respect for diversity of passengers. If such training was provided, he wanted to access the course materials.
The Public Information Officer (PIO), State Transport Department, transferred the petition to the PIOs of Metropolitan Transport Corporation, Chennai, State Express Transport Corporation, Chennai, and Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporations located at Villupuram, Coimbatore, Salem, Tirunelveli, Madurai and Kumbakonam. Not satisfied with the response of the PIO and the First Appellate Authority, he filed an appeal before the Commission.
After hearing both sides over the phone, in view of the COVID-19 safety protocol, State Information Commissioner S.T. Tamil Kumar directed the PIO/Under Secretary, Transport Department, Chennai, to provide complete information called for by the petitioner and warned that action under Section 20 (1) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act would be initiated if the order was not complied with.
Early in 2019, the State government had informed the Madras High Court that a new seating arrangement in buses with special facilities for physically challenged passengers approved of by the Union Ministry of Road Transport was being provided in the State. It was also informed that State Transport Undertakings were told to provide route maps and bus schedules in Braille at bus stops.