Ramps, wheelchairs missing for senior citizens, disabled

Oct 16, 2014, 04:31 IST | Namrata Anjana and Juili Eklahare

These facilities were nowhere in sight and most of the centres in the Parvati constituency had no volunteers to assist the elderly and differently-abled persons who had come to cast their vote

The unpreparedness of polling booths in the city were felt the most by senior voters and differently-abled persons who came to exercise their franchise at the designated centres yesterday. Schools in the Bibwewadi area of Parvati constituency were selected as polling centres.

Polling booth
Frustrated: The administration yet again failed at providing facilities for the elderly and differently-abled, making it difficult for them to get to the polling booth at ease. Pics/Shashank Sane

The absence of wheelchairs and ramps made it difficult for them to make their way to the polling rooms. It’s not that the authorities are unaware of the problem they face, as these were the same issues highlighted during the Lok Sabha elections held in April.

Polling booth

With no ramps set up, those with walking sticks were forced to climb a multitude of steps to get inked. It took almost an hour for Ramdulari Gupta (89), who uses a walking stick, to make her way to the booth at Yashwantrao Chavan High School. With her son’s help, she was able to complete the task.

Polling booth

No laptop facility
Citizens checking their names on the voter’s list were made to wait in long queues since the officials on election duty did not have laptops and were forced to refer to the hard copies of the voter’s list. Laptop facility for officials was available only at Pasalkar hall for the entire Parvati constituency while the other had no choice but to refer to hard copies of the voter list.
Many chose to go to the help desks set up by political parties outside the centre’s premises to assist voters in finding their names on the voters’ list.

Saurabh Athanikar, a mechanical engineer, who walks with the help of a walker, said, “It would have been helpful if volunteers were around at the voting centre to assist the physically disabled citizens because making it all the way to the booth is an uphill task. The provision for us to be able to vote from home itself is preferable too, but the chances of that happening aren’t very high at the moment.”

“When the officials at the help desk at Yashwantrao Chavan High School told me that they were unable to find my name in the list, they suggested that I approach the desks set up outside the centre, since they had laptop facilities,” said Gajanan Mahajan (83) resident of Satara, who walked nearly 100 metres to reach the nearest help desk.

Senior citizen, Dattatraya Abhyankar who was unhappy with his voting experience said, “The voting booths are supposed to be active continuously for citizens to come and cast their vote. The officials at the booths must take turns to have a break so that there is no interruption in the voting activity. But the people had to wait for about ten to twenty minutes while all the officials took some time off together, making the citizens wait.”

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