Accessibility January 14, 2020
Railways slammed for inaccessibility of Mumbai locals, court demands action
The Bombay High Court has criticised Indian Railways for the lack of facilities on Mumbai local trains for disabled travellers. Neither trains nor stations are friendly. The court has ordered the Railways to take speedy action to make facilities safe and accessible for disabled travellers.
A few weeks back, 22-year-old Charmi Shantilal Prasad died after she fell from an overcrowded Mumbai local train. Charmi, who was on her way to work from Dombivali station to Ghatkopar reportedly fell from the train in the rush. Hundreds of deaths from Mumbai local trains have been reported in the past many years. But officials of the Indian Railways have not taken any steps to safeguard or protect the thousands of commuters. The Bombay High Court has taken note of this and said that local trains cannot offer safe travel, especially to disabled people, this mode of transport is meaningless.
Need of speedy justice for disabled travellers
The court, under the bench of Justices Riyaz Chagla and Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari were looking into petitions to provide better services for disabled people in local trains and also to make them accessible. The justices stated that people without disabilities do not have the courage and are scared to travel in local trains.
No differently-abled citizen must fall at the time of alighting or boarding a train, especially during peak hours. There must be some mechanism to ensure that they board and alight safely. Accordingly, we want railways to take care of the issue and provide a friendly atmosphere to the differently-abled citizens, so that they can board and alight trains without any fear. We think everyone should be able to use local trains at any given point of time. – Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari, Bombay High Court
The bench of justices have asked the railways whether they have a clear percentage and statistics of disabled travellers who used the local trains on a regular basis. The railways will have to provide this at the earliest.
Many hardships faced by disabled travellers
Travelling in trains are almost impossible for disabled people, especially in Mumbai local trains. Over the years, commuters have been requesting railway officials to enhance facilities. But nothing substantial has been done till date. In the case of disabled passengers, there are no ample facilities like wheelchair ramps and Braille facilities. Most of the disabled people must have an accomplice in order to travel safely in the local trains. This is clearly a violation of the rights of a disabled person who is also unable to travel independently.
Jasmina Khanna, a wheelchair user from Mumbai is a disability rights activist who has been part of a project to audit accessibility of Indian railways.
“I used to travel by local trains when I was small. But now, I haven’t for many years since most railway stations are not accessible for wheelchair users. I have been part of auditing accessibility of trains and railway stations. It is not at all accessible for disabled people. A disabled person cannot even get into the train coaches”, says Jasmina.
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