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Sunday, 30 October 2016

Scholarship rescues poor meritorious students

Sourav Kaibartya, a fisherman's son who scored 94.2% in his higher secondary examination this year got entry into NIT Durgapur for engineering course. The boy was at a loss as to who will fund his education. That is when a corporate house came into his rescue. Thirty-seven students like him from West Bengal meritorious but from poor families will now get to continue their studies with an initiative from Magma Fincorp Ltd.

As a part of the organisation's CSR activity, M scholarship for 2016 that will help the scholarship holders for their undergraduate studies has been announced.

"Every year many meritorious students hailing from poor families are forced to discontinue their higher education due to lack of funds. Keeping alive our motto of investing in the smallest dreams, Magma Fincorp Ltd., started the scholarship last year and offers 50 scholarships every year. This year, a large number of students from West Bengal, has won the scholarship - winning almost 75% of the total number offered," said Kaushik Sinha, vice president and head of CSR at Magma Fincorp Ltd.

Sumana Shit despite being physically challenged due to idiopathic juvenile scoliosis did not give up. When she scored 94% in the higher secondary examination she was worried as a family income as low as Rs 3000 per month, was not enough to support her studies further. Sumana too is a recipient of the scholarship.

The scholarship will fund the undergraduate studies of the 37 recipients from West Bengal. 

Source : TOI , 23rd Oct 2016

Pune: Institute for differently-abled veterans to mark 100 years

QMTI will launch an initiative called Hrunn on October 21.

Queen Mary’s Technical Institute, QMTI, Hrunn, Indian armed forces, rehabilitation, differently abled, Indian soldiers, Indian army, Pune, Pune news, Indian express news
The initiative aims at respectable rehabilitation of differently-abled soldiers of the Indian armed forces.

As part of its ongoing centenary year celebrations Queen Mary’s Technical Institute (QMTI), in association with Redefine Concepts, will be launching an initiative — Hrunn – Ab Hamari Jimmedari — at Balgandharva Rangmandir, 6 pm on October 21.

The initiative aims at respectable rehabilitation of differently-abled soldiers of the Indian armed forces.

The inauguration and logo unveiling will be at the hands of former captain of the Indian cricket team and chairman of BCCI Selective Committee, Chandu Borde. The occasion will also see the presence of renowned scientist and DRDO Director-General Anil Datar, founder-president of Lakshya Foundation Anuradha Prabhdesai and actor and association member for QMTI centenary committee Vikram Gokhale.

CEO of QMTI Col. Devendra Gupta (Retd.) said, “We are in the process of upgrading the training facilities and infrastructure of the institute. We want to raise awareness about the nobility of the institute. Hrunn aims towards participation of public at large in this cause.”

QMTI has been working for and imparting vocational training to differently-abled ex-servicemen or those rendered unfit for service in the Armed Forces due to medical reasons or prolonged medical treatment for the last 99 years.

But, with this initiative, it aims to further its cause by generating funds to help make these soldiers more equipped and empowered. Redefine Concepts will be working as the official communication partner for this cause throughout the year.

Redefine Concepts will be coming up with different initiatives throughout the year to raise funds to support QMTI.

QMTI was founded in Mumbai on May 16, 1917 by Lady Marie Willingdon, wife of the then Governor of Bombay province. In 1922, QMTI was shifted to a better and 17.3-acre location at Khadki.

Source : Indian Express , 21st Oct 2016

Make buses differently-abled friendly: Govt

For the convenience of the differently-abled, the government has asked states to ensure that buses are adequately equipped with user-friendly features.

"Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has directed all states to have 10 per cent of the total fleet of buses to be equipped with disabled friendly features to provide people with physical and visual disabilities easier access," industry body Assocham said in a statement today quoting Joint Secretary, MoRTH Abhay Damle.

Addressing a conference on 'Safe road-safe Life', Damle said majority of people with disabilities are mostly apprehensive of using public transport as presently state owned and private buses are not equipped and do not meet the requirement of people with special needs.

"State transport authorities have been asked to acquire and equip buses designed to enable people with disabilities to board and disembark without having to be assisted," the statement said quoating him.

It said that Ministry has also issued advisory to State transport departments to issue driving Licenses to the differently abled clearing all normal driving tests and formalities.

"A person without both the hands has been issued a driving license in Indore recently. Moreover, the state transport and Motor Vehicle registration authorities in the country have been asked to immediately register vehicles modified by the disabled without and certificate from the vehicle manufacturer," said Damle.

Regarding motor vehicle safety, Indian cars presently being manufactured are quite safe, the official said and that more stress should be given on two wheeler safety by vehicle manufacturers as 80 per cent of the vehicles in the country are two wheelers.

India is signatory to UN Decade of Action for reducing fatal road accidents by 50 per cent by the year 2020 , but road accident deaths are on the rise with about 1.5 lakh deaths in crashes every year.

Source : Business Standard , 19th Oct 2016

Society must sensitise itself to the differently-abled

The 2011 census says there are 21 million differently-abled persons in India

Travelling is generally a tedious process for all, because it involves reporting at the airport at least two hours before the departure of the flight, going through the security checks, having to discard objects the security personnel do not allow on the flight, etc. However, for the differently-abled, the hassles become manifold, as was seen in the case of the Paralympian Aditya Mehta, who had to take off his prosthetic and strip down during security checks at the airport in Bengaluru. On an earlier occasion too he had been asked to take off his prosthetic at Delhi airport. He had then written to the PMO and the relevant civil aviation authorities but he is still to hear from them.

This has once again brought up questions on security protocol for the differently-abled.
Before this incident, as early as 2014, several disability rights activists had given guidelines to the airports to be followed. Some of these were not forcing wheelchair users to stand for checks, not lifting wheelchair users, etc. The alternatives suggested were screening the passengers, and in seclusion. The problem can be lessened to a considerable extent by making it obligatory for the differently-abled to give an advance notice of, say, two days to the airport authorities, and arriving a little earlier than the rest.

As a matter of fact, we do have rules for the convenience of differently-abled passengers. However, nothing exempts them from security checks, which results in objectionable things happening. But there are ways of avoiding inconvenience to the differently-abled. For example, a differently-abled person can be made to go through electronic checks and not be compelled to take off his or her prosthetic. In the United States, there is legislation in this regard and both in the UK and the US there are systems and procedures governing the dignity of the differently-abled.

Apart from facing problems at airports, the differently-abled are inconvenienced in other ways also. The 2011 census says there are 21 million differently-abled persons in India and the target is to make 50% of government buildings convenient for them to use in various ways such as having wheelchair lifts, ramps, Braille signposts, etc. Constructing accessible buildings and creating mobile apps for information on inaccessible places can be made part of corporate social responsibility. But all these will remain just dreams if we do not have the right attitude towards the differently-abled and recognise that there must be enough space for them to overcome the hurdles they face. 

Source : Hindustan Times , 19th Oct 2016

Physically challenged assn protests, threatens to intensify stir - Bhatinda

Members of the Physically Handicapped Persons Association staged a protest against the government at Ambedkar Chowk here today.

Physically challenged assn protests, threatens to intensify stir
They also threatened to intensify their agitation against the Punjab and Union governments if their demands were not met. The association is demanding employment for educated physically-handicapped persons. It has also accused the government of turning a blind eye towards the welfare of the physically handicapped.

Raising slogans against the state government, the members alleged that as the politicians made lofty promises  of ensuring free education and medical facilities to them to curb the problems of illiteracy and poverty, their fundamental rights were also being taken away. “Even after 64 years of gaining independence, politicians pay little attention to the rights and demands of the physically handicapped persons,” said Balwinder Singh, leader of the association.

The members also threatened that if the state government did not announce favourable policies as per their needs and not drafted according to their demands, they would be left with no option but to launch an agitation against the government. Adamant on their demands of opening 5,000 posts for the physically challenged, employment as per their ability and qualifications and an increase in pension amount up to Rs 3,000 per month of physically challenged persons, the union members vowed to make the public aware of how false promises were made to them during a panel meeting held with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on June 18.

They further stated that there were about 12 lakh physically challenged persons, out of whom 60 per cent have complete documents regarding their disability but the government had failed to increase the amount of their pension. Balwinder said the government had been spending crores on its advertisements but it had failed to increase the amount of our pension despite the fact that many of handicaped persons were living hand-to-mouth. “We are demanding that the education and health facilities should be provided free of cost to physically challenged and their children,” he added.

Source : Tribune News Service , 26th Oct 2016

Punjab Government Regularises 30,000 Contract Employees

Announcing a major Diwali bonanza, the Punjab government on Tuesday regularised the services of over 30,000 employees working on contract basis in various government departments and societies in the state.

The decision, which comes into force with immediate effect, was taken during the cabinet meeting chaired by the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal this afternoon.

With elections barely a few months away, the decision is being seen as a last ditch effort by the Badal Government to win over protesting groups of such employees.

In another significant decision, the cabinet also decided to "adopt" all the employees who have been taken through private outsourcing agencies or contractors. These employees will no longer be on contract with the private contractors but would be shifted straightaway to a direct arrangement with the government.
The cabinet also directed the chief secretary to ensure that all the cases related to employment on compassionate grounds in all departments should be decided and disposed of on priority within a period of three weeks.

In another important decision, the cabinet further decided that the entire backlog of posts related to all reserved categories which included scheduled castes, backward classes, physically handicapped should be immediately filled up through a special recruitment drive.

In a major goodwill gesture and as an expression of honour and gratitude, the cabinet also formally approved the special grant-in-aid of Rs. 50 lakh to be given to the war widows or their legal heirs, of the valiant soldiers who had laid down their lives in the 1965 and 1971 India-Pak wars and 1962 India-China war.

The said policy had been announced way back in 1975 and over 1500 war-widows who had applied in time had been allotted up to 10 acres of rural agricultural land or cash equivalent in lieu of land at the rate notified from time to time. However, there were nearly 100 cases in which the applicants, for one reason or another, failed to apply within the stipulated cut-off date. Above 100 such cases had applied till the extended cut-off date January 4, 2010.

Source : ND TV , 26th Oct 2016

Pay Rs 5L compensation to woman who worked for AFMS: HC to MoD

The Bombay High Court has directed the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to pay compensation of Rs five lakh to a 62-year-old woman who used to work with the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) for compulsorily retiring her after she approached court seeking upgrade of her post.

A division bench of justices V M Kanade and Revati Mohite Dere was hearing a petition filed by Sheila Rajan challenging the order passed by the Director General of the AFMS, MoD refusing to upgrade her post from Group C to Group B.

Rajan joined the AFMS of the MoD in 1971 as a speech therapist.

According to her petition, the then Colonel in-charge of administration made a recommendation for upgrade of her post.

However, this came to be rejected on the ground that the MoD cannot upgrade posts as it can be done only by the Pay Commission, it contended.

Rajan then approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) but before her matter could be heard the Army passed an order of compulsory retirement against Rajan in April 1992.

Apart from this, the Army further reduced Rajan's two increments, said the petition.

"The facts disclose a very sorry state of affairs and we are pained to note that the respondents (Ministry of Defence), instead of issuing a letter of appreciation for the work done by the petitioner chose to punish her merely because she approached the court against inaction on the part of the respondents," the judges said.

The bench noted the petitioner was made to run from pillar to post and was penalised for approaching the court in an attempt to get justice.

"In this case the petitioner has been working for children of Army men who are physically handicapped and who have to be given speech therapy. Instead of considering her grievance in a sympathetic manner and giving a pat on the back of such a good working officer, the Army chose to humiliate and punish her in every conceivable manner," the court said.

The bench noted that while the MoD has committed contempt of court by not complying with orders it does not intend to take any action under the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act.

"We express our extreme dissatisfaction over the conduct of the respondents in this particular case. We propose to award compensation to the petitioner and direct the respondents to pay a sum of Rs 5 lakh to the petitioner within eight weeks," the court directed.

The court, said the Pay Commission in 2006 has already upgraded the post of speech therapist from Grade C to Grade B and hence no order was required on this issue.

Source : Business Standard , 24th Oct 2016

A polio victim who has become a ray of hope- QUETTA ( PAK )

NAQEEBULLAH Ehsas at his office.

NAQEEBULLAH Ehsas at his office.

“Many people told me that I was a curse and burden for my family. Some even advised me to commit suicide,” says Naqeebullah Ehsas, a man hit by poliovirus in his childhood and still unable to walk.

Sharing the most traumatic yet game-changing experience of his life, he says, “I used to crawl away on a two-kilometre-long rugged road in a harsh mountainous area to go to and return from the primary school in my village.

“During that journey, once I was intercepted by two elderly men who beat me blue and black, furiously punched me and kicked me as if they wanted to kill me. Why, I don’t know.

“I was traumatised. But I turned my grief into my power and decided that I am not going to continue living this wretched life,” a confident Ehsas says.

He was born in a poor family in Churmayun village of Balochistan’s Pishin district. If not for his strength and endurance, he would have been dead or leading a miserable life.

But he is alive and strong. “I did my BA in Social Sciences and MA in Pashto literature. Will earn my Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree in December after which I plan to go for PhD,” Ehsas said.

Naqeebullah Ehsas who used to crawl to school now lives a successful life and wants other polio victims to follow suit

He told Dawn that as anchor he hosts two programmes for Radio Pashtun and PTV, is a poet and a lecturer in a government college in Quetta. Most of all, he is working to uplift the lot of special people and give them the due place they deserve in society. He runs an NGO, Physically Handicapped Welfare Association.

Ehsas says he is inspired by a quote from Confucius: “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

It relates to his life and encourages him to keep on struggling and achieving success after success.
But all these successes hadn’t come easy. He has gone through extreme adversity. The physical labour he had to endure to perform very simple routine tasks of everyday life, like walking.

But, above all, it is the social stigma he faced during his childhood which pains him most even now. “People’s misunderstanding and ill treatment hurt me more than the burden of being crippled.”

Like every media reporter, I am also an inquisitive self, but here I felt that I have been sort of knocked down by Ehsas.

I had no more questions to ask...

After a long pause of heavy and crushing silence, I made an uneasy move with the intention of taking leave from him. Ehsas read my mind and said smilingly, “Let me tell you a story that changed my life.

Then he narrated the episode of him being beaten by two old men when he was a small child.

“The enraged assailants took turns to thrash me, showered my legs with kicks and pounded on my back. Until, they were too tired. I thought I would die but survived by the grace of God,” he paused.
“This tragic incident changed my life and helped me to withstand miseries and inspired me to succeed in life.” He continued “Because I wanted to prove the old men were wrong”.

Ehsas completed his elementary education in his village confronting a lot of challenges. Then he shifted to Quetta where he enrolled in a high school in special education programme. During his high school period, he worked in a clinic to earn money for his living expenses and payment of school fee. Later he worked as a junior clerk at a government organisation.

“Like the pendulum, I am still simultaneously living in two different worlds,” he said.

“I am still haunted by the agonising memories of my past. The unbearable pain which marked the tender days of my childhood is still imprinted on my soul. The stain is impossible to remove. Though I have left that phase of my life far behind, and am now a happy person and a role model for others, a successful man, the irritation caused by my crutches transports me to my excruciating past.”

“I wish no one suffered what I had gone through.”

Ehsas sighed slightly and continued, “Whenever I read or hear that polio virus is still active in Quetta and some other parts of the country, I am shocked. I am afraid that more and more children are going to be affected by polio and destined to live a miserable life.”
“Not everyone is going to make it like me. We need to stop this virus to save our coming generation,” Ehsas insists.

“If we fail, the next generation would be laughing at us that we couldn’t fight with a tiny virus. We couldn’t eradicate polio due to our failure to educate unaware and gullible parents who buy conspiracy theories against the vaccine,” he said.

It was time to leave. I had no words to say to Ehsas, but told him that he is a blessed soul and God is happy with the successes he has achieved.

Let me conclude by his wonderful phrase. “People’s misunderstanding is more dangerous than the virus.”

Published in Dawn October 24th, 2016

Artificial limbs distributed

A free artificial limbs distribution camp was organised by Bharat Vikas Parishad Charitable Trust, Punjab, at Viklang Sahayata Kendra today. Artificial limbs, calipers, tricycles, wheel chairs and hearing aids were given to 12 physically handicapped persons. Meanwhile, a free polio corrective surgery camp was also held where eight patients were operated. The camp was sponsored by Anil Gupta, MD, Tech Auto Pvt. Ltd. 

Source : Tribune India , 24 Oct 2016 

Home buyers seek divine intervention for completion of Dwarka Expressway

Disappointed with government and authorities for their failure to complete Dwarka Expressway, one of the important infrastructure project of NCR, home buyers, who have booked flats in townships being developed across e-way now seeks divine intervention for completion of this jinxed project. To appease almighty and seek his intervention to complete the project, home buyers performed puja and Havan on Sunday on Dwaraka Expressway.
Around 90,000 people have invested in residential and commercial properties in more than 100 projects being developed along Northern Peripheral Road (NPR) also known as Dwarka Expressway, which was conceived and developed as alternate route between Delhi and Gurgaon. The road was expected to reduce traffic load of 40% on NH-8. Most of the real-estate project of Gurgaon planned on this expressway, which was promoted as new Gurgaon, but even after seven years NPR, now a national highway, is still incomplete ridden with litigation and obstacles.

"Left with no hope, now we seek divine help through this havan and puja, so that God helps us, protect our hard earned money invested in these properties and give us our home," said Gaurav Prakash , an executive member of DXP Welfare Association, a group of home buyers. He said more than 1000 families have got the possession of their flats in last few months but they are unable to move into their dream home due to non-completion of Dwarka Expressway.

More than hundred home buyers from different project assembled at end point of Dwarka Expressway in Gurgaon at sector 111 to perform puja and havan. Later they took out a rally on e-way to register their grievance over delay in completion of the road.

"My father who is physically handicapped had purchased a flat with all his life time savings in 2011 on Dwarka Expressway thinking of it to be a world class road with metro connectivity. But our dream has turned nightmare due to delay in completion of this road. I pay rent and EMI but we are not sure when this road will be completed," Prakhar Sahay, one of the home buyers.

Komal Ahuja, vice-president of DXP said after returning from USA in 2014 he booked a flat on e-way with a hope to live in an area with world class infrastructure. "Forget about world class infrastructure, we have not able to get basic infrastructure like road, water, sewerage, electricity connection," said Ahuja adding that home buyers are today in middle of nowhere, they have invested in property which have no connectivity with mainland.

There were home buyers, who have got possession of their flats but not able to shift into their houses in lack of connectivity and basic civic infrastructure. "I got possession of my flat, which I had purchased after paying several crores, few months back, but still I am staying in rented flat in Dwarka as there is no connectivity due to incomplete Dwarka Expressway," said Manish Grover.

Finding it hard to pay EMI and rent, some of the people who got possession shifted to their house, but in absence of basic civic amenities, they have to face problems on daily basis. "We shifted to our house few weeks back, but living in this area which has no connection with mainland is very difficult. There is no connectivity, proper water and electricity, no shops ... nothing. It is like living in an isolated island," said Major (rtd) RK Rao.

Source : TOI , 23rd Oct 2016

PH Candidates write to CM for justice in job appointment

Affirming that they are repeatedly neglected by the state governments over last two years in appointment for government jobs, the physically handicapped (PH) candidates have written to the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking his intervention to ensure justice. In a letter to the CM, the PH candidates indicate that it is sad that their appointment based on PH job reservation rules has been neglected by Kerala government over the years despite the apex court and high court ruling in their favour.

"Even after a representation is made and despite that the file is doing the rounds since a long time (File: 6464/SJD/2015) we have not been able to find justice," said a PH candidate K Madhu from Thrissur, a post graduate from IIT Kharagpur. He has made it to the KPSC Rank list for Deputy Collector Post in land revenue department two years back and is yet to be posted.

No different is the plight of other PH candidates whose names had figured in the rank list and are yet to be posted. The PH candidates Sugatha Kumar, a hearing impaired, Praveen A, an orthopedically handicapped and Sananda Singh a low vision candidate are yet to be considered by the state for the post of municipal secretary, though the courts had ruled in their favour.

Supreme Court directive which means that the first vacancy should be reserved for the disabled, then the 34th and 67th. It also seeks to implement the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Act from 1996 onwards and fill the PH backlog vacancies from existing KPSC rank list.

Now, the file on PH appointment is with Social Justice Department (SJD), yet a decision on implementing that can be taken only by the state government by issuing an order. When contacted, SJD secretary A Shahjahan told TOI that a joint meeting of the secretaries from the concerned departments will be held on Monday. "A decision on the appointment of the disabled based on the Supreme Court directive can be expected soon after the joint meeting," he said.

Source : TOI , 22nd Oct 2016

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Sri Lanka to put in place facilities for physically challenged tourists

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Ministry on Friday said it would put in place all basic facilities for physically challenged people to visit the island nation.

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Minister, John Amaratunga said in a statement that with this year’s theme being: `Tourism for all promoting universal accessibility,’ it was the right time for the government to plan ahead.

Amaratunga, however, said that planning ahead will make Sri Lanka a success story in providing accessibility to all in this part of the world.

“It is of greater relevance to us here in Sri Lanka as we are now on the cusp of rapid growth in both tourism infrastructure development and hotel inventory.

“We need to start by facilitating our own physically challenged people who are eager to explore their motherland, but hesitate to do so due to inadequate facilities,’’ he stressed.

Amaratunga emphasised that Sri Lanka was obligated to put in place the basic facilities needed to ensure both the safety and comfort of physically challenged people.

Source : Sundiata Post , 30th Sep 2016 

Photo identity cards for differently abled persons - SALEM

To facilitate buying concession tickets easy for the differently abled persons and to prevent misuse of the facility, Railway administration is issuing photo ID cards for them all over the Indian Railways.

In Salem Railway Division, so far 5,326 applications were received for issue of photo ID cards for the differently abled persons, at Coimbatore, Salem, Erode, Tiruppur and Karur railway stations.

Of these, 5,173 have already collected the ID cards from the places where they submitted the applications. A total of 189 applicants are yet to receive the identity cards.

Since the doctor’s certification has to be verified before handing over the ID cards, the remaining 189 beneficiaries can approach the appropriate authorities in the centres where they submitted their applications on or before October 5 to receive their ID cards in person. They may also contact mobile No. 98409 16964 for any assistance in this regard, an official press release of the Salem Railway Division issued here on Friday said.

Source : The Hindu , 1st Oct 2016 

Suspension order of town panchayat employees set aside - MADURAI

The Madras High Court Bench here has set aside an order passed by Ayakudi town panchayat in Tirunelveli district on April 1 last suspending from service two healthy individuals who were appointed to the post of hand pump operator way back in 2001 under the quota for the physically challenged.

Allowing individual writ appeals preferred by S. Periyasamy and Jesu Antony by way of a common order, a Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and V.M. Velumani, however, gave liberty to the Executive Officer of the town panchayat to expedite departmental enquiry initiated against them and pass final orders as soon as possible.

The judges agreed with the petitioners’ counsel that suspension of government employees, pending enquiry into allegations of fraudulent recruitment, could be resorted to only if there were chances of tampering of records or other such evidence. In the present case, no such thing could be done by the petitioners occupying a lower level post.

The Division Bench also said documents produced by the petitioners, prima facie, disclosed that they were not suffering from any disability and had registered their names with Employment Exchange only under the General Category. They were also subjected to medical examination at the time of recruitment on consolidated pay in 2001.

The medical examination report also disclosed that they were not physically challenged. Yet, they had been appointed under the quota and their services were regularised in 2006. It was only after the filing of a public interest litigation petition in the High Court last year alleging misuse of quota meant for the physically challenged, the town panchayat initiated action.

“It is pertinent to point out at this juncture that the appellants are under employment for nearly 14 years and all of a sudden they are placed under suspension,” the Division Bench said after overruling a single judge’s refusal to entertain their writ petitions on the ground that the culpability of the petitioners could be found only after conclusion of departmental enquiry.

Source : The Hindu , 1st October 2016

50 cops detained for boarding bogies reserved for handicapped - Mumbai

In a special drive, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) caught over 50 cops travelling in handicapped compartments. This drive was conducted after several warnings to the cops from the Inspector General of the RPF to not travel in handicapped compartments fell on deaf ears. The drive focussed on major stations such as Kalyan, Ambernath, Badlapur, Dombivali, Thane and Kurla.

A team from the Railway Protection Force (RPF) checked each of the handicapped compartments, detained cops found in the coaches and took down their identification numbers. The RPF now intends to write to their superiors. Central Railway officials said that when able bodied persons travel in coaches reserved for the physically handicapped, it causes all sorts of concerns and often results in the chain being pulled, which is one of the main causes of trains getting delayed. Officials said each time the train's chain is pulled, it gets delayed for two to five minutes.

Nitin Gaikward, who is physically-challenged and travels from Ghatkopar to CST, called this exercise an eye wash. Gaikward said, "After filing several petitions the RPF did not fine these cops. They were simply detained. It is very troublesome for handicapped commuters as the entire coach is occupied by these people."

Senior Divisional Security Commissioner for RPF on Central Railway Sachin Bhalode said, "This is a part of an on-going drive which we conducting to curb the problem. We will also write to their superiors and departmental heads to highlight the problem." 

Source : TOI , 1st Oct 2016

Accessibility must be a special need for us all

A week before the terrible massacre in Paris earlier this year, my best friend went with her husband and young daughter on a trip to the City of Light they had promised themselves a long time ago. That he was now wheelchair bound did not impede their plans a whit.

From taking his battery-operated chair on board the Air France flight to the special cab that took them around Paris to their hotel room and bathroom, everything was kitted out for those with special needs. Parisians are not known to be particularly friendly to “outsiders”, including people from their own country. But amazingly, they pulled out all the stops for this doughty couple, helping them at every point. Privileged entry to museums and other public buildings was a given; even restaurants and washrooms were equipped to deal with wheelchairs.

Nary an inconvenient step or two impeded their access anywhere. They came back glowing with goodwill for Paris. When it comes to planning anything within our own vast and wondrous country, however, they are not that confident. Things are far from being truly “accessible” here. They are in the process of painstakingly finding out from domestic air carriers whether battery-operated wheelchairs are allowed on board and whether hotel rooms in India have rooms with high beds and manoeuvrable bathrooms that all international chains abroad now provide as a matter of course. For those with any sort of physical challenge, tourism within India is not easy.

Travel operators do specialize in organizing trips for them but options are not exhaustive. Transport for those incapacitated in some way is not guaranteed; tourist spots, whether architectural or natural do not necessarily ensure accessibility to all areas. While ramps are willingly provided as a nod to making premises “accessible”, more often than not, they are too steep and do not cover the entire property. India is leapfrogging on many indices, so it is not too much to expect that the tourism sector would gear up to welcome travellers with special needs. Indeed, one of the most subtle yet telling marker of a developed society is the attention it pays to special needs.

India fares poorly on this. Our pavements are too high or uneven, most buses and trains ignore those with mobility issues, buildings have stairs and steps in inconvenient places and our administrators generally do not care. Around 2.7 crore Indians have special needs– more than the population of Australia, actually. And while it’s been “mandatory” since 2009 for hotels to ensure accessibility and special rooms in line with best practices abroad, even most tourist destinations lack such facilities. In India, only one in 250 hotel rooms provide such features, as compared to the international ratio of 1:50. And the revised Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 is yet to be passed.

The Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and Sanchi Stupa confidently assert their accessibility. Kerala Tourism (usually an industry leader) is tomtomming Fort Kochi as its first accessible tourist spot while Karnataka government ambitiously announced on World Tourism Day earlier this week that 20 heritage destinations will be made “disabled-friendly”–by installing ramps and audio panels!–taking a cue from Tipu Sultan’s summer palace in Bengaluru, upgraded by ASI. The ASI has picked 50 monuments under its Adarsh Smarak Yojana to implement the “Accessible India” (Sugamya Bharat) campaign, including Ajanta and Ellora, Red Fort, the Qutab Minar complex, Ranthambore Fort, Konark’s Sun Temple and Hampi.

Solar wheelchairs and battery-operated buggies, Braille signs, tactile pathways, railings and special toilets are on the cards. But differently abled tourists need more than just monuments and hotels to be made accessible. The entire infrastructure has to be geared to be friendly to tourists with special needs, from transportation and pavements to restaurants, theatres, cinema halls, stadiums, parks and public buildings like post offices and shopping centres. Even in homes and offices, there is little consideration for special needs in India.

Why should we (and employers) not take an initiative too by making our individual environments accessible as well? Besides ramps, little things matter – no unnecessary steps (despite their alleged aesthetic value) to impede mobility, wider doorways and corridors, handles in bathrooms and, most importantly, a sensitive approach. My best friend and her family won’t have problems in my home…

Source: Economic Times , 1st Oct 2016