It is estimated to be 7 crore population of SAP as per Planning Commission of India and if we add the Senior citizens also who have age related disabilities, population that needs special help and attention could be more than 10%.
Voice of Specially Abled People has been promoting “Accessible Bharat Abhiyan” with H’ble PM, H’ble Minister of SJE, H’ble Minister of Transportation, private sector leaders such as Chairman of Reliance, PepsiCo and many others. Accessibility will bring in Empowerment as SAP will be able to move around and able to work, study etc. Railways provide huge service to people to commute/transport between the places.
We have developed this comprehensive proposal with 10 suggestions wherein Indian Railways can lead entire country by demonstrating special focus for this large population. In fact, H’ble PM has already announced to make our schools accessible by allocating Rs 1 lac per school (Maan Ki Baat, Nov 2) so Railways can echo to the PM’s appeal and call for upgrading the infrastructure and make them accessible to create inclusive society by adopting the proposed suggestions in the budget.
- Based on variables such as # of platforms, trains/day, average daily passenger traffic at the station (5% of which assumed to be people with disabilities incl senior citizens) etc. parameters, Railways should provide (a) fold-able ramps to get into the train, (b) provide # of wheel chairs at the station at multiple locations, (c) elevators to go across the platforms
- Every railway station should be made fully accessible for all types of persons with disabilities. Ramps should be added, pipe to hold and walk on the ramps etc. allowing wheel chairs to enter and move around in the station along with electric carts as per universal accessibility standards
- Ticket purchase, inquiry etc. counter should be there for Specially Abled People – at least at major stations, metro railway stations, Mumbai local trains, exclusively to serve the people with disabilities. Such counters would have window that is lower in height for wheelchair bound passengers, audio and visuals for visually and hearing impaired people and sign language for individuals with autism
- As part of long term solution, at minimum 1 specially designed fully accessible railway cart should be added to every train – this cart will have chairs, sleeper coach, rest rooms etc. internal design as per the universal accessibility standards. This cart will also have permanent ramp and space for wheel chair movements. This will be a permanent solution. As railways modernize, all new bogies should meet universal accessibility standards. Bombardier and similar other companies can help us here develop design for meeting international universal accessibility standards. This should also boost exports revenue for Indian Railways. HUGE EXPORT OPPORTUNITY to export to African, SAARC and other developing countries
- Railways website for reservation should be as per W3C accessibility standards so that visually impaired people, people with autism, and other peoplecan do their railway booking on their own
- Allow online application for obtaining allowed benefit passes to Specially Able People by accepting documents online and verified during travel by the TT. If any fraud, apply severe penalties / punishments but make it easy for general population with online application and issue of the card
- For metro and local trains in Mumbai, like separate bogie for women is there, separate bogie for PwD is also needed even if they are not fully accessible but at least it is a reserved coach so they are not left behind because of large crowd. Many times such reserved coaches are there but they are occupied by temporarily abled people and not Specially Abled People. Strict compliance and penalty provisions should be adopted immediately
- Railways should hire min 5% of their employees who are Specially Abled People / Persons with Disabilities. Identify certain jobs and include required training programs within Railways HR department for making these Specially Abled People productive. Budget for their special needs, tools etc. but huge opportunity to Empower thousands of SAP and their families
- As an expedited option, to find right skilled candidates, should leverage expertise of private sector for skill development, training for “employ-ability” in railways or create training programs within railway department to train and then absorb as employee after 1 year of probation, on the job training
- Ensure safety of Specially Abled People by allocating reserved space to wait for the train on platform and get into the train to the assigned bogie with required equipments and help of trained staff/porter service at the station in assisting the passengers to get in and out of the bogie safely.