Poor arrangements leave elderly, disabled frustrated

“Bring the change; vote for a better future; if you don’t vote, someone else would decide for you!”

There was no dearth of peppy slogans to get citizens out to vote, from all sectors and age groups. But the arrangements made for the senior and other physically-frail categories of citizens were below par, they felt.

Helping hands:  The election staff and a policeman helped physically challenged man to reach the polling booths in Kalyaninagar. Pic/Mohan Patil

Major polling booths at Kasba Peth constituency were seen lacking assistance and arrangements for them.

Shailaja Sarnaik and her husband N Sarnaik, both in their 60s, visited the Jhashichi Rani Kanyashala polling booth near Shanipar in the afternoon to avoid peak time rush, but the April swelter more than made up for that.

On reaching the venue, the couple found out that their booth was located on the first floor, which had at least 30 stairs to climb. Shailaja Sarnaik said, “This is a frustrating and inconvenient situation for people like us. Not only is the booth situated on the first floor there is also no volunteer to guide us.

These are at least 30 steps. How do you expect an aged man with a walking stick and an ailing wife to climb two staircases effortlessly? We are here to fulfill our responsibility to the country, but shouldn’t the administration be equally responsible for providing facilities for us?”

A physically challenged citizen who did not wish to give his name denied assistance from this reporter. “This happens every time at this polling station. People are reluctant to help. If I have a right to vote I have the capacity to reach there myself. I see the police personnel do not help people like me willingly. What would the election commission officers do sitting in their air-conditioned rooms?” he said, and walked away with his walking clutches and pride.

Hemant Sant, public booth representative at the Jhashichi Rani Kanyashala, said, “People have been asking for better facilities in this polling booth for nearly two decades now. But all requests go in vain. At least these people are turning up to vote, which is an encouraging part!”

A presiding officer of the polling booth said, “As the polling station is one of the main booths of the area, the turnout of senior citizens is high.

We believe that such facilities should have been made available for the citizens; at least these people should have allotted a station on the ground floor. But there are too many things to look after in the rush hour of elections. Unfortunately, we could not make the booth up to the mark.”

Kasba Peth constituency saw a turnout with 58% voting recorded.

Bright side

In Shivajinagar constituency where people were seen assisting those in needed. In spite of this though the constituency saw 57% voting. Baal Shikshan Sanstha voting booth was equipped with walking platform for senior and challenged citizens, while Apte Prashala booth had assistants rushing to their aid. Voter Yogesh Raut’s mother was assisted by volunteers at the booth while he was finding space for parking his vehicle. “There was no ramp for elderly or physically challenged people here, but at least we could see the volunteers helping.”

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