Civil movement

Rajiv Rajan – The New Indian Express

By Express press service

This year marked 75 years of Indian independence and five years since the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD) came into effect. Yet people with disabilities, like me, are still forced to ask themselves where is our freedom of movement?

The recent IndiGo airline incident at Ranchi Airport may still be fresh in the reader’s mind. A child with a disability, based on the staff’s faulty assumptions, was not allowed to board the plane despite civil aviation rules and various court orders. Unfortunately, after the furore over the incident, things only got worse with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation changing the rules allowing airline staff and a doctor at the airport to have extensive powers to decide whether a disabled passenger can fly. or not.

It is an example of how, in the opinion of policy makers, accessibility for people with disabilities has unfortunately been reduced to the mere thoughtless installation of ramps and lifts. However, for a physically disabled person to move around independently, ramps and lifts are not enough. Design changes required in public transport infrastructure, for example, include ticket counters, signage and elevator emergency buttons at lower heights.

Even in India’s modern metro system, the gap between the train and the platform poses a risk to wheelchair users, people using canes and children as well. For this reason, in some countries the train door opens with a small automatic ramp.

Those of us who advocate for the rights of people with disabilities have tried to get involved in public transport projects from the early planning stages to show decision-makers how buses or trains can comply with RPWD and be accessible to all users.

Yet, despite the comprehensive legal requirements in place, the pioneering efforts of the central government’s Accessible India Campaign, and our best efforts, illegal sourcing is unfortunately the norm. Worse still, central government schemes like FAME-II are egregious in their non-compliance. In the first three months of 2022 alone, activists tracked 19 state transit union tenders and found that more than 54% (4,290/7,840 buses) bid for 900 high-floor buses. mm who flew in violation of the standards.

The bulk of these 7,840 buses were tendered through Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Department of Energy. CESL has been approached by the Freedom of Movement Coalition, a network of disability rights groups, on numerous occasions regarding the illegality of the planned procurement, but to no avail. In doing so, the central government tacitly endorses the purchase of public transport vehicles that are inaccessible to disabled and elderly people, unethical, unfair and inconsistent with standards, RPWD and Supreme Court orders.

Similarly, Indian Railways was also a disappointment. The so-called disabled-accessible coaches are nothing more than ordinary coaches with wider doors. These cars, in fact modified baggage cars, are in reality non-reserved compartments which can only accommodate two persons with disabilities and their companions.

In addition, to travel long distances by train, many disabled people starve for the duration of the trip because trains and stations lack accessible toilets. Even the 100% indigenous Vande Bharat Express reserves only one seat – out of 1,128 – for wheelchair users. Obviously, there is a lot to be done to make India truly accessible. The first step towards this, however, would be to develop a holistic, disability-inclusive procurement policy.

After all, as the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has said, “it is unacceptable to use public funds to create or perpetuate inequality that inevitably results in inaccessible services and facilities”.

Footnote is a weekly column that deals with the world from the perspective of Tamil Nadu

Rajiv Rajan is the co-founder of Ektha, a disability organization, disability rights facilitator and boccia coach

Changes required
Among the design changes required in the infrastructure built for public transport are counters, signage and emergency lift buttons at lower heights. Even in India’s modern metro system, the gap between the train and the platform poses a risk to wheelchair users, people using walking sticks,
and the children

This year marked 75 years of Indian independence and five years since the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD) came into effect. Yet people with disabilities, like me, are still forced to ask themselves where is our freedom of movement? The recent IndiGo airline incident at Ranchi Airport may still be fresh in the reader’s mind. A child with a disability, based on the staff’s faulty assumptions, was not allowed to board the plane despite civil aviation rules and various court orders. Unfortunately, after the furore over the incident, things only got worse with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation changing the rules allowing airline staff and a doctor at the airport to have extensive powers to decide whether a disabled passenger can fly. or not. It is an example of how, in the opinion of policy makers, accessibility for people with disabilities has unfortunately been reduced to the mere thoughtless installation of ramps and lifts. However, for a physically disabled person to move around independently, ramps and lifts are not enough. Design changes required in public transport infrastructure, for example, include ticket counters, signage and elevator emergency buttons at lower heights. Even in India’s modern metro system, the gap between the train and the platform poses a risk to wheelchair users, people using canes and children as well. For this reason, in some countries the train door opens with a small automatic ramp. Those of us who advocate for the rights of people with disabilities have tried to get involved in public transport projects from the early planning stages to show decision-makers how buses or trains can comply with RPWD and be accessible to all users. Yet, despite the comprehensive legal requirements in place, the pioneering efforts of the central government’s Accessible India Campaign, and our best efforts, illegal sourcing is unfortunately the norm. Worse still, central government schemes like FAME-II are egregious in their non-compliance. In the first three months of 2022 alone, activists tracked 19 state transit union tenders and found that more than 54% (4,290/7,840 buses) bid for 900 high-floor buses. mm who flew in violation of the standards. The bulk of these 7,840 buses were tendered through Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Department of Energy. CESL has been approached by the Freedom of Movement Coalition, a network of disability rights groups, on numerous occasions regarding the illegality of the planned procurement, but to no avail. In doing so, the central government tacitly endorses the purchase of public transport vehicles that are inaccessible to disabled and elderly people, unethical, unfair and inconsistent with standards, RPWD and Supreme Court orders. Similarly, Indian Railways was also a disappointment. The so-called disabled-accessible coaches are nothing more than ordinary coaches with wider doors. These cars, in fact modified baggage cars, are in reality non-reserved compartments which can only accommodate two persons with disabilities and their companions. In addition, to travel long distances by train, many disabled people starve for the duration of the trip because trains and stations lack accessible toilets. Even the 100% indigenous Vande Bharat Express reserves only one seat – out of 1,128 – for wheelchair users. Obviously, there is a lot to be done to make India truly accessible. The first step towards this, however, would be to develop a holistic, disability-inclusive procurement policy. After all, as the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has said, “it is unacceptable to use public funds to create or perpetuate inequality that inevitably results in inaccessible services and facilities”. The footnote is a weekly column that deals with the world from a Tamil Nadu perspective. Rajiv Rajan is the co-founder of Ektha, a disability organization, disability rights facilitator and boccia coach. signs and elevator emergency buttons at lower heights. Even in India’s modern metro system, the gap between the train and the platform poses a risk to wheelchair users, people using canes and children