KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday gave the Centre a September deadline to replace high lead-content devices with non-toxic parts in Taylor Frame, an equipment used by visually disabled persons to learn mathematics.
Advocate Srikanta Dutta, who argued the PIL filed against the toxic parts of a Taylor Frame, said, “WHO, in its assessment, had cautioned against the ill-effects of slightest lead poisoning. In this case, a report by the National Test House shows Braille scripts have 98.11% lead content.” WHO, according to reports, said anything around 10g/dL (micrograms of lead per decilitre of blood) or above is a cause for
concern as lead is a highly toxic metal and a very strong poison. After the PIL was moved, the division bench of Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya and Justice Arijit Banerjee had asked the Centre to file a detailed report.
The Wednesday’s HC direction came after the Centre assured the court it would instal non-toxic parts in Taylor Frames in June and they had been researching the new devices since 2011-12. The HC directed that the state, after three months of introducing the revamped equipment, will carry out a health check on Blind Schoolstudents, to gauge its impact and provide for the students’ treatment, when needed.
The Centre said that the Dehradun-based National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Visual Disabilities had been working since 2011-12 to develop and design nontoxic materials for Braille prints. The Centre told the HC that this referred to a part of an equipment used by visually disabled students to learn maths. Taylor Frame is an apparatus made of wood and aluminium and not lead, the Centre said. A Taylor Frame has small pegs, called Ar Types. In aconventional equipment, these pegs are made of an alloy, containing lead. This alloy will be replaced with epoxy glass. The Centre also said the Taylor Frames made of safe materials are expected to be available for sale and supply by June, 2018.
In November 2017, an advocate with visual disability urged the Calcutta HC to give an order to replace all lead-made Braille prints with plastic ones. In her PIL, she attached a survey that showed students using Braille scripts with high lead content were complaining of sleeplessness, lack of appetite, gastric ailments and loss of memory. Petitioner Snigdha Acharya, daughter of retired HC judge Shankar Acharya, is studying for her PG diploma in public health care and medicine law at National University of Juridical Sciences.