In a letter addressed to the MD and CEO of Convergence Energy Services (CESL), Mahua Acharya, several disability rights organisations and activists have flagged concerns about the violation of various mandates in the centralised tendering for procurement of 5,585 electric buses.
The organisations coming together under the rubric of Freedom of Movement Coalition (FMC) have objected to the non-compliance with bus standards and procurement norms in the tendering for 5,450 electric buses and 135 double decker electric buses by CESL.
FMC feels that the tendering process is in violation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the Harmonised Guidelines on Accessibility and also Supreme Court judgements.
The letter pointed out that at least 1,850 out of the 5,585 city buses being tendered are high-floor buses and are therefore not in compliance with the existing Bus Standards and provisions of the RPWD Act 2016. Even in the case of the 3,600 low floor buses and 135 double decker buses, mandatory accessibility requirements (especially for wheelchair users) have either not been specified or indicated as ‘not required’.
The tendering comes at a time when according to the central government’s own data only around 7 percent of public buses in the country are fully accessible, notwithstanding the targets set by the Accessible India campaign.
Objecting to the flouting of these mandates, the Coalition has urged the CESL to issue a corrigendum to the tender addressing all deviations and requiring all buses to be low floor buses, for ease of use by the disabled and the elderly.
The Freedom of Movement Coalition is an all-Indian group advocating for equity in transport. Its members include – Advocate K.R. Raja; Centre for Accessibility in Built Environment ( CABE); December 3 Movement ( D3M); Disability Law Initiative; Disability Rights Alliance (DRA); Diversity and Equal Opportunity Centre (DEOC); Ektha; National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP); Human Rights Law Network; National Platform for Rights of Disabled (NPRD); Nilesh Singit; Rahul Bajaj; Rajive Raturi, Samarthyam, National Centre for Accessible Environments; Dr. Satendra Singh; Sruti Disability Rights Centre.