Express News Service
CHENNAI: A day after Chief Minister MK Stalin rolled out the scheme of free travel for women in ordinary city and town buses, persons with disabilities (PwDs) has requested the Chief Minister to include them in the scheme too. They further pointed out that a promise in this regard had been made in DMK’s election manifesto. “The manifesto assures free bus travel for persons with disabilities.
Also, there is a Government Order issued in 2008 under former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s regime, which allows 75 per cent concession for PwDs in bus travel. This is implemented only in long-distance buses. That order can be extended to local buses at least now,” said S Namburajan, state general secretary, Tamil Nadu Association for Rights of All Types of Differently-Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC). Pointing out that the fare was only around Rs 5-10 in the past, Namburajan said it had shot up now.
“We have urged the government several times to give the PwDs free ride. The DMK too made the promise in its 2021 election manifesto. Now that disabled women can also benefit from the scheme, we want it to be extended to disabled men. There are only about 2-3 lakh disabled men.” TMN Deepak of December 3 Movement urged that the PwDs should be provided at least monetary relief, as most buses were not accessible to them. “It is a part of social justice.
Most of the PwDs are from economically poor background. What we see in Chennai is not even one per cent of the disabled population. The larger chunk lives in the rural side, and for them, this free ride would mean a lot,” he said. Disability rights activists point out that there is a lot of confusion in availing the bus pass.
In Chennai, the beneficiary must produce a recommendation letter obtained from the company they work in, following which they can get concession to travel between the place of their stay and their work. Another requirement says the 75 per cent concession can be obtained only if photocopy of the disability certificate is produced. This is for inter-district travel. Hence, they urge the government to order free travel for PwDs too as promised.