Saturday, October 23, 2010

Elevator = Alleviation of troubles

It is either not allowed or it is not obligatory in India for building with 4 storeys or less to have an elevator. I do not know the reason for this. If anyone does, you are requested to enlighten me about the same. I am still very young and disease/disability-free (thankfully) to be bothered by non-elevator buildings but unfortunately certain family members are not. This has got my blood boiling.

The last Ganesh festival took us to my aunt’s place. She lives on the 3rd floor of a 4 storied building in Thane. Here is what happened.

1. My mother, whose one knee has recently decided to be troublesome, took more than 6 minutes (with a nearly 2 minute halt at the 2nd floor) to get to the 3rd floor. She had only a slightly-less harrowing time coming downstairs.

2. Upstairs, my aunt looked much more portly than she was last year. I was taken aback by the change. My aunt and her husband are diabetics in need of regular exercise. My dad, an orthopaedic surgeon, gave his cousin a sermon on the benefits of walking. She just had one dry reply. “I have not left the house in months. I am old now. The legs don’t permit that. It’s easy to go downstairs, but it’s an uphill task getting back home. Her husband had the same complaint.

The conversation between my parents, my aunt and my uncle got me thinking and brought to mind troubles of people facing the same predicament due to varied reasons. Consider the cases below.

1. A friend’s mom recently underwent a hip replacement surgery and needs the assistance of a walking stick to get around the house. She stays in a 4 storied South Bombay building without a lift. This lady is largely confined to her house as using the staircase gives her leg aches.

2. Imagine the agonies of expectant mothers in such buildings. Movements become much slower and demand more efforts during this period. The woman will have to trek up and down the building during the 2nd and the especially strenuous 3rd trimester if there is no lift. A working lady might even consider going on leave earlier for this reason. It will also be a tough task to help a lady in labour out of the building. It can be suggested that she move out to a more convenient location as the due date approaches but why should such a need arise?Just because lifts aren’t considered important for all buildings?

3. Heart patients who live in these buildings must also find it taxing to go downstairs and come upstairs every time the need arises. This kind of exertion may not even be advisable for many amongst them. Someone may not have a cardiac problem today but it’s hard to tell who may suffer from a degenerative heart disease. Somebody who is fine today may not be so next year.

4. Consider the cases of temporary disabilities. Say I sprain an ankle or fracture my leg. I will not be handicapped for life but that period of convalescence will also mean of a period of confinement to my home if it is in a 4 storied building.

I spoke to a co-worker about this problem as he is committed to civic engagement. I asked him if he knew what could be done to resolve the same, maybe a PIL or something. This is what he said. If the 4 or less storied building has space, an elevator can be installed, provided all residents agree and are will to pay for it. But there is a catch. People living on the ground floor often refuse to pay stating that they will hardly ever use the facility. This argument is fallacious as irrespective of the floor people live on, they have to contribute to the maintenance charges of the society and those include the money for maintaining the lift. People living on the ground floor do pay for these things in buildings that have more than 4 floors everywhere.

This problem won’t be resolved anytime soon but something has to be done. At least people have to be made aware of the fact that this problem exists before they face it themselves. Till them, I guess my mom, my aunt and uncle and other acquaintances will just have to put up with the uphill task of getting home.

2 comments:

Chandan Mulherkar said...

Perhaps a new elevator design, a small one meant only for people in need, that can be installed in already constructed buildings without much fuss, something cheap yet reliable n sturdy..

Natalia said...

Yeah that's quite possible. My colleague told me that Raj Thackeray (they both live at Shivaji Park) has the same provision in his building. The lift is located on the exterior of the building and it takes him straight to his floor which is the 4th. I did wonder if something of that sort can be arranged in all old buildings of 4 or less floors at lower costs and more convenience. The residents themselves will have to agree first.

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