Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to demolish telephone booths that were previously allotted to physically-challenged people. They won’t be rendered jobless however, since they will be allowed to man stalls in civic-run vegetable markets.
The civic body had generated employment for specially-abled citizens by allotting them telephone booths. There has been a dramatic drop in calls made from public booths after the influx of mobile phones. With the drastic reduction in call and messaging rates, use of landline phones has become redundant, severely impacting the business of the differently-abled people.
“Their business suffered immensely due to the evolution of phones. It further declined due to free and unlimited calling services. So, in order to enable them to keep their home fires burning, the corporation has decided to rehabilitate them in BMC markets, as there is no way these will stop functioning,” said a BMC official from the markets department.
The corporation will now demolish all the telephone booths across the city, paving the way for pedestrians, since most of these booths were located on the pavements. This, however, will be done only after the differently-abled are allotted their new jobs.
This change, however, will come at a premium. Nidhi Choudhari, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Special), confirmed, differently-abled people will be charged a one-time payment for the shops they are allotted in these civic markets.
Dhondu Bhamre, one such specially-abled person and Santacruz resident, welcomed the move. He is, however cautious. “If the switch happens, we are all for it. I am, however, scared — what if the shop is demolished and we don’t get a job back in the market? We will be doomed. I am wary about handing over the keys to our telephone booths. This is the last kind of work we can do,” he said.
According to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, the civic body is required to set aside three per cent of its budget for differently abled citizens.