Mumbai News: Footpaths For All! BMC Vows To Maintain 1M-Gap Between 2 Bollards

Even as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) assured the Bombay High Court that it would maintain a gap of one metre between two bollards, which are set up at footpath entries and exits, the court questioned the unmindfulness of its officials who were overseeing the process.

Less Space poses difficulty for differently abled

The fact that less space between the bollards makes footpaths inaccessible for the differently abled and elderly, was brought to the notice of the Bombay High Court through an email by Karan Shah, a man who has been wheelchair bound since birth due to spinal muscular atrophy. In October, a bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor took suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the issue.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the BMC informed the bench that it had formulated a new policy on May 26 this year, to make footpaths more accessible to differently abled persons and elderly persons.

Senior advocate Anil Singh, appearing for the BMC, said that the new policy would permit selective entry to motorbikes and cycles and hence, a distance of one metre (39.37 inches) would be maintained between two bollards. This would allow easy access to wheelchairs too, since a wheelchair span is just over 22 inches, Singh said.

Corporation to conduct survey

The corporation is in the process of conducting surveys in all 24 wards of the city to track down discrepancies and fix them. So far, the survey has been completed in 12 wards, Singh added. Singh said that the process would take some time since a contractor/ s would have to be appointed after the survey, to fix the discrepancies.

Bench questions BMC Officials’ strategty

At this, the bench questioned how the BMC officials who had supervised the work at the time of setting up such bollards, could have been so unmindful. “Not that the corporation has not spent money. But how can your (BMC) officers be so unmindful? Contractors, as well as the officers, should be taken to task,” the CJ said.

Asking the civic body to stick to the policy meticulously, the court noted in its order: “He (Singh) submits that in all the wards of BMC, a survey is underway and reports are being prepared that if any lacunae are found in the design or state furniture, especially used by differently abled, appropriate steps will be taken.” “See to it that if such things are found, then the officer who is supervising should act,” added CJ.

The court has also asked the BMC to file an affidavit, stating the manner in which the footpath policy is being implemented and will hear the matter on February 7.

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