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Countless appeals pay off, East Delhi temple builds ramps to enable access

Citizen activism pays off and how. From New Delhi, comes the kind of story that we like to tell.

Kajal Sharma is thrilled that she can finally visit the Shri Radha Krishna Sanatan Dharma Temple in her East Delhi neighbourhood. Kajal, who is 40 years old and a wheelchair user, had to make do with offering darshan outside the temple as there were no ramps built.

As someone who was born in this neighbourhood and lived here all her life, this rankled Kajal deeply. Matters came to a head during the Dussehra festivities last year when she could not enter the temple even on such a special day. She decided to petition temple authorities, a move that was covered on Newz Hook.

Her activism paid off with temple authorities building two ramps, one each at the front and rear side.

I am feeling so happy that the ramps have been built. We started the campaign last year and initially temple authorities were not receptive to the idea. But we did not give up and kept up the pressure. We met with the authorities a few times and appealed to them and they finally agreed. I have lived here all my life, and this is a special moment for me. I can pray with everyone else now and it feels good that I have helped bring about this change. - Kajal Sharma, Disability rights activist

Seeing the number of devotees, they have made happy with this move, Yashpal Goel, who is the president of the temple, is planning to introduce more features.

"So many devotees, like the elderly and people with disabilities, have appreciated this move. The response has been overwhelmingly good, and we plan to add railings so people can walk up the ramps easily. There are a few who devotees who feel the look of the temple has been spoiled by the ramps but Goel says these are too few to count. "It did not cost that much and more importantly; it feels good to have done this because now everyone can visit the temple.

Kajal's brother Parul Sharma, who is an accessibility specialist, hopes this will lead to more temples and places of worship following suit.

"Providing a Ramp and an assistive device (like a wheelchair) to enable a person with disability/ senior citizens to access a religious building is worship in the true sense. I feel that initiatives like the one in present case, should be replicated in all the religious places and proposed Smart Cities across the country and relevant stakeholders and decision makers should come forward to set an example and help in making India a barrier free and accessible nation".

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