Disabled travellers raise concern over toilets being shut down in railway platforms
Disabled travellers face numerous hurdles due to inaccessibility. Recently the Ludhiana Railway Station was under the scanner because the accessible toilets here are always shut. In spite of having separate toilets exclusively for disabled people in each platform, none of them are open. Authorities have been informed but nothing has been done.
Experts say that this is usually not the case with railway stations in big cities. Toilets here are accessible and open through the day. Dr Ketna Mehta, Founder- Trustee, Nina Foundation, in Mumbai says stations in Mumbai do better on this front.
Local trains and transport systems are for everyone. Authorities must realise that and provide facilities to every person, irrespective whether they have a disability or not. When it comes to railway stations, newsstands, platforms and toilets must be disabled-friendly and accessible. In Mumbai, I have not really come across such unfortunate incidents. All the toilets and washrooms for disabled people are always open. Authorities must also look into hygiene levels and safety of these toilets and washrooms. - Dr Ketna Mehta, Founder-Trustee, Nina Foundation
Its the small towns and cities that do not fare well when it comes to accessible toilets. Railway authorities here tend to ignore such issues, says Prince Durairaj, a para volleyball player from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
"It is not just in Coimbatore. In most parts of India, I have noticed that toilets for disabled people are always closed. I really do not understand why they do this. What is the point of constructing toilets for disabled people if they are not useful? When you travel, you are mostly busy. That is the reason many people, including me, refuse to file a complaint on this. They just don't have the time. I really hope I can do something about this someday soon", he says.
Disabled travellers are forced to use the same toilets as others, which is hard. Sunitha Thripanikkara, a wheelchair user from Kerala, says using regular toilets takes time for people with disabilities and this leads to angry reactions at times.
"Many people hurl abuses and get irritated when we take a lot of time. I wonder why the authorities are not taking any action to make a change. Due to such factors, I'am forced not travel to other places", says Sunitha.
In spite of repeated requests, authorities do not seem to hear the cry of people with disabilities demanding their rights. Washrooms and toilets for disabled people in railways platforms remain closed, truly making travelling an impossible task for disabled people