This article is written by Turab Chimthanawala, a student of Nagpur University.
Visual impairment is a handicap and for such people in order to lead a ‘normal and independent’ life, there is a need to bring in suitable modification in their physical environment. Sadly the road traffic in Nagpur is very thoughtless about pedestrians and thus walking along the Nagpur roads is an uphill task for less sighted persons. The bright white stick in our hand is invisible to most drivers. Although there are footpaths along most big roads, they are mostly occupied by hawkers or are full of drains and potholes. When and how do we walk? I feel despite the continuous mobility training that we undergo, crossing the Nagpur roads independently and safely seems to be far from reality for all visually impaired persons. In my recent visits to Chennai and Delhi, the traffic would stop immediately on seeing my stick (even police cars) thus enabling me to cross on my own even on congested roads but in Nagpur drivers seem to enjoy knocking people down. Another concern is the presence of stray animals such as dogs, cows, buffaloes on most roads. These are a nuisance not only to us but also to fully sighted people. Moreover instead of taking up ambitious Metro projects, time, money and efforts should be directed towards constructing sub-ways or pedestrian bridges. It is sad that ‘red light’ is often ignored by most drivers. I feel that the road traffic strongly follows the principle ‘Laws are meant to be broken’. I am sure that this nuisance can to a considerable extent be reduced if the police do their assigned duty. Unfortunately police are hardly present at congested places. I can say this for sure because I reside near Itwari Railway station and there is constant traffic congestion on Itwari bridge and there is nobody to regulate traffic. Also police if present at traffic signals mainly sit in their cabinets. There are also no sensors which produce sound when our stick touches the road. There is also no road marking or facility to make signals green like in foreign countries. I just pray and hope that the ‘Modi wave’ which has brought in some top notched educational institutions and industries in Nagpur also tries to regulate road traffic which would not only benefit visually handicapped persons but would be a great relief to full-sighted people.