Travel By Wheelchairs To Test Footpaths: Delhi HC to Municipal Body

The High Court exhorted the local municipal body to remove all concretisation to allow obstacle-free avenues.

The Delhi High Court on November 15 directed municipal officials to traverse the length of a local colony's footpaths on a wheelchair, without any help from anyone, to ascertain the useability of the pavements there.

This will test the efficacy of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation's (SDMC) efforts to make streets and footpaths user friendly, Justice Najmi Waziri said.

The court's direction came on a plea filed by a local resident on the issue of concretising hundreds of trees in south Delhi's Vasant Vihar area. The resident complained about non-compliance with earlier court orders and departmental inaction in preserving trees.

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The court directed that all concretisation beyond the road and the walking paths laid by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)/Power and Water Department (PWD) shall be removed from the earth, no matter how deep the concrete. The SDMC assured the court that the footpaths shall be levelled, repaired and made amenable for unhindered use for all, especially for the physically challenged.

"Citizens need to be empowered and facilitated in the enjoyment of their constitutional rights, for which provision of basic civic amenities is essential, like a safe and secure neighbourhood, and tree-lined avenues and footpaths, where an endeavour of a leisurely stroll is actually a pleasurable exercise and not an obstacle dodging, harrowing experience," the November 15 order read.

"Freedom of movement is a constitutional guarantee and it should not be hemmed in by the lack of civic amenities," the high court added.

Lack of civic amenities might discourage walking to neighbourhood shopping centres, to community-bonding cultural events and for leisure-time in colony parks, the judge observed. "Instead, people would use motor vehicles, adding to the city's ever-burgeoning traffic congestion and unmitigated air pollution," the judge reasoned.

"So, it all starts with taking care of the neighbourhood trees and greenery and ensuring that the footpaths winding through the tree-shaded avenues are obstacle-free," the judge said exhorting the need to protect one's natural environment.

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