Delivering the key-note address at the state level workshop on “Accessible Elections” at Haritha Plaza here on Tuesday, he referred to the special arrangements being made to achieve maximum polling percentage by persons with disabilities (PwDs), and said “this is only a beginning”.
“This is for the first time that these amenities are offered to this category of citizens. The amenities provided at the polling stations would become permanent facilities for PwDs, as most booths were located in government buildings/institutions.
It might not take much time to provide this disabled-friendly atmosphere in Government offices and Minister’s Quarters,” he said.
He gave a patient hearing to the narration of the problems by select speakers from a large gathering of PwDs, and to the appreciation over his stupendous work by others, he said “I am educated and humbled. The response from you is really an inspiration to me and other officials. My heart is at right place”
Dr Rajat Kumar said there were around 10.46 lakh PwDs in the State with 7 lakh out of them being aged above 18 years. Booth-wise mapping would be made, covering all of them to extend the amenities. He specified that for every one foot of height of the ramp at booths, being provided with grills on either side, the slope should be 12 feet.
The CEO said there were legal hurdles under the Representation of Peoples Act to allow a PwD to vote at an alternative booth if the booth where his/her named figured, lacked amenities. Efforts were made to provide wheel-chairs at all the polling stations.
Activation of voice response of the EVMs was still in the progress. Polling personnel would be trained in 15 key sign-language gestures to facilitate voting by PwDs.
Earlier, Dr Rajat Kumar lighted the lamp and inaugurated the workshop. Mrs Shailaja Director, Department of Disabled welfare chaired the programme.
PwD icons like Mahender, international cricket player, Abhinaya, film actress and Sravya, singer and Sujatha, TV anchor and others participated in the workshop.