Monday, March 5, 2012

Open letter to Indian Civil Aviation Ministry/DGCA

Dear Sir,

The DGCA's CAR on carriage of persons with disabilities was brought out after much deliberations between DGCA's Officials, Airline representatives, disability activists and NGOs/DPOs working with the persons with disabilities and the elderly. We all had high hopes from the document that was to serve as a guideline.

However, after recent incidences of maltreatment, harassment meted out to the travelers with disabilities, we are deeply pained and hurt. We find that while DGCA's guidelines that we jointly created with great effort are more often disregarded on a regular basis by the airliners. The precise reason behind this is lack of accountability and absence of systems that may promote an environment of respect, trust and proper and transparent  grievance handing machinery. The DGCA doesn't seem to have any power over the airliner in case of disregard shown by the airliner except a show case notice. At least we haven't seen any thing more than that till date.

When this happened to my friend Jeeja Ghosh, I wrote a detailed letter to Jeeja  explaining what as stakeholders we could do. This was not one odd incident. Several such incidents have happened in the past and have even been reported after Gosh's. We all are well aware that many more are never reported by the media since the affected persons do not want to escalate or have no access to the media.  

Under these circumstances, I strongly feel that urgent steps needs to be taken to contain this perennial mistrust and environment of fear and uncertainty created by insensitive attitude of airliners and utter lack of training of the service staff and pilots about the needs, rights and potentials of persons with disabilities.  We need to give teeth to the DGCA's CAR abovesaid and if required amend them to make them enforceable by the rule of law.

I strongly request your indulgence in solving this issue so that human rights of millions of travelers with disabilities and those with reduced mobility are protected, respected and realised.

Thankfully yours,

Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Advocate - Disability Rights

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