The Railway Board has extended the contracts of disabled people currently running phone booths at various railway stations across the country for three months. The booth owners were to be evicted on Friday.
There are thousands of such booths owners in the country. "Their contracts that were ending on April 27, have been further extended for three months," official sources said but declined to elaborate on the further course of action.
The Railway Board had earlier decided to evict the booth owners after their contracts ended on Friday. However, on April 7, Hindustan Times reported the Board’s move and their possible displacement.
On April 9, taking cognisance of the HT report, the Court of the Chief Commissioner for Disabilities stayed the eviction and issued a show cause notice to the Railway Board through its secretary, asking: "why the said scheme should not be continued and to submit the version of the Railways on the newspaper report within 30 days from the date of receipt of this notice."
The notice that was issued under Section 59 of the Person with Disabilties (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights, and Full Participantion) Act, 1995, added: "In the meantime, the existing allottees with disabilities of the telephone booths etc. under the scheme shall not be displaced and deprived of their livelihoods." The court had also sought details from the Railways on ‘alternative arrangements to rehabilitate those being displaced.’
"We are happy at the relief that is being provided to us but this is temporary. The anxiety still remains. The Board should take a decision rather than making brief extensions in the contracts," Vineet Sharma, General Secreatry of the Viklang Telephone Booth and PCO Association said.