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Pune airport's pick up facility for disabled passengers mixed reviews

March 28, 2019

In a first, Pune airport is all set to introduce an exclusive waiting bay for disabled and elderly passengers outside the airport. A special pick up zone will be earmarked where passengers can wait for their private vehicles or cabs to pick them up from the airport. That way, they do not have to negotiate the traffic to get out of the airport.

Disabled flyers from the city believe this is a great initiative, but there is some criticism as the airport is disabled-friendly. Passengers have to pay Rs 390 to enter the airport with their vehicles. If they spend more than three minutes inside the airport, this amount will not be refunded. The same is applicable to passengers on wheelchairs as well. Pune airport officials have not exempted disabled passengers from paying this amount.

Besides, the construction work that is currently going on inside the airport premises is already causing a lot of inconvenience to passengers. That is why there is an urgent demand for exclusive features for disabled people inside the airport.

Javed Choudhari, a para basketball player from Pune travels regularly by air for champonpionhips and takes his vehicle to the airport when he has to fly out.

I usually travel to Pune airport in my two-wheeler. Since I stay far from the airport, I have no option but to take my own vehicle. Unfortunately, they do not provide entry for two- wheelers inside the airport. So I have to park my vehicle in the entrance gate and figure out a way to get inside the airport. It is high time they provide exemptions for disabled people. Inside the airport, some airlines are disabled-friendly, others are not. There are more than one crore wheelchair users in India. Airport officials must realize that and provide facilities for disabled people as well. -Javed Choudhari, Para Basketball Player

There are still many factors that need to be covered to make it disabled-friendly. They can start off by introducing battery operated vehicles to ensure easy mobility of disabled and elderly passengers. There must be exclusive passages for disabled people so that they do not have to move in between heavy crowd and traffic inside the airport. Most of the disabled people, mainly wheelchair users, are usually accompanied by someone. But for those who travel alone, moving around independently inside the airport is still a hassle. Most importantly, disabled people raise demand for exempting them from charging their vehicles a heavy price for entering and exiting the airport.

"Accessibility is a crucial issue in India. Hence, this new move by Pune airport is a welcome move indeed. Recently, a 60-year-old disabled person was denied a wheelchair at the Mumbai airport. They said they can provide a wheelchair upon request, but have to pay Rs 1,200 as fee. She had to figure out something on her own. This is not an isolated incident. It can happen anywhere, even in Pune airport which I frequently use. I appreciate this effort by Pune airport to introduce exclusive pick up zones for disabled people. But there is so much more to be done, says Diksha Dinde, a wheelchair user from Pune.

ALSO READ: Frame policies to enable dignified air travel for disabled passengers, says Supreme Court

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