A movement towards Accessible Beaches

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                      We, BHAVNA BOTTA and UMMUL KHAIR, are proud citizens of this democratic country which has the fundamental rights that “promote protect and ensure human rights” .The fundamental rights are guaranteeing to all citizens the access and use of the same facilities, irrespective of background.

           As citizens of India, shouldn’t we, BHAVNA BOTTA and UMMUL KHAIR have the same fundamental rights like any of you?

          We are persons with disability living in Chennai, the fifth-largest city in India. Chennai is Located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal and bestowed with 6.45 km beach making it the longest natural urban beach in the country and one of the world's longest beaches. Beaches are an integral part of Chennai’s culture and recreation, affordable to all. The light house on the Marina beach is of heritage value and access to it will throw open a site which is both a tourist attraction and of great  educational value for students with disability .

                             The beach is always milling with crowd enjoying the waves and the fresh air. Come a weekend the Chennaites land in the beach except for the families having people with disability .This is because the beach is not accessible for persons with reduced mobility. Wheelchairs have to be pushed through the sand, a back breaking exercise for a care giver or parent or sibling or friend. The dignity, self confidence of the person on the wheel chair dips to lowest. There are lakhs of senior citizens in the city who cannot walk through the sand and enjoy the nature’s gift.

 

                        It is a fundamental right for all of us to access and enjoy a public space, just like any other citizen .But this is denied due to lack of will on the Government‘s part. We don’t want this discrimination. Crores of rupees are spent on beautification of the beach promenade but not a single rupee to ensure access for citizens with disabilities and reduced mobility. Why this second class treatment?

 

                           For many years a group of us have been advocating for an accessible beach. Many promises have been made by the concerned officials including a temporary access last year on World Disability Day, but nothing more than that. It was just a day’s access!

 

                         Corporation of Chennai and Department of Tourism will have to ensure that our fundamental right of access to all places is upheld. This denial of access to beach amounts to violation of our rights as a citizen and also violation of human rights. This has to stop.

                    Sign our petition and join us in asking the chief minister of Tamil Nadu and the Prime Minister to implement disabled friendly measures in the beaches.

                  According to The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, there need to be facilities available for those with disabilities. Thus promoting and protecting the rights of all persons with disabilities to have a cultural life so as to participate in recreational activities equally with others. Yet we are still being humiliated because of poor implementation.

Our fight is to ensure human dignity for people with disability. We are asking the authorities for some basic things –

  •  Accessible path to water front from the promenade
  • Accessible parking lots and foot paths in the beach promenade
  • Accessible bath rooms
  • Beach wheelchairs and scooters with safety measures like buckles and ratchets to be made available
  • Access to the Light house

 

                              We want a meeting with Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and talk to them about the difficulties faced by people with disability in accessing simple joys of life.

 

                        Sign our petition and ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Edappadi K Palaniswami to implement measures to make the world's longest beach accessible and set an example to the world.

 

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