Sunday, January 29, 2012

Access Rights of the Disabled routinely denied by airliners and railways


Dear friends,
Several things in India, including the access rights of disabled are so routinely denied that quite a few have just stopped even questioning them. Be it non availability of para transit systems to reach the nearest accessible bus shelter/city bus service/ accessible Metro or absence/inaccessibility of the pedestrian walkways to even venture out on the roads to reach the public transport bays/platforms.
The disability law that requires access at all public places including the modes of transports is almost 16 years old, but doesn’t seem to bother the airline operators (despite the Civil Aviation Requirements on carriage of persons with reduced mobility binding on them!) nor the Indian Railways which faces several Public Interest Litigation Petitions in various High Courts. The most recent being heard in the Mumbai High Court that is hearing a matter on inaccessibility of Railway platforms and Coaches that was widely covered by media. Click here to look at what the Honorable  Court had to say on the same.
Now our Hon’ble Minister for Social Justice realizes that even the airline operators are routinely defying the law and had to take this initiative. We commend it and hope the Minister, Civil Aviation takes the right steps to “Let the Law Prevail”!
NEW DELHI: Union Social Justice Minister Mukul Wasnik has asked Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh to make ramps compulsory in all airlines to facilitate boarding by physically challenged persons.
The request, in a letter to Singh, came after Wasnik saw a person lifting a disabled to help him board the plane because there was no ramp to help the wheelchair. The minister also expressed concern at the insufficient availability of Ambulifts in airports.
Wasnik asked Singh to advise all airline operators to provide access to their aircraft through ramps instead of stairs. The Persons with Disabilities Act requires the air transport sector to adopt measures to ease the access to the disabled to aircrafts, airports and toilets.
The absence of Ambulifts in most airports makes the operators provide stairs for passengers to embark, requiring those on wheelchairs to be physically lifted.

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