Volume 2 Issue 7 - April 01, 2004

Disabled passengers' nightmare at domestic airport

DNIS News Network - Lack of special parking areas, high check-in counters, 'disabled-friendly' toilets that are difficult for a physically impaired person to use and a staff untrained in handling people with special needs. These are just some of the problems that were identified when an access survey was conducted to assess the ground reality at the domestic airport, reports The Times of India.

Survival of the fittest is probably what describes the situation best. As you arrive at the departure, there is no special drop-off zone for the disabled. You have to get out within 20 seconds, or the cops threaten to tow away your car, the auditors found.

Apparently, there is space for the disabled in the special parking for the airport officials, but no one knows about it. "You have to cross many barriers in order to reach the parking," said Sanjeev Sachdeva. (Sachdeva, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, was part of the audit team.)

Similarly, the check-in counters are much above the specified height of 800 mm. "The counters are all over 1,100 mm. Even the drinking water counter is inaccessible for the wheelchair-bound," said Anjali Agarwal, another member of the audit team. The team also found the flooring inside the airport non-conducive to people with restricted mobility.

None of the private airlines provide proper facility for transporting disabled passengers to the aircraft. There is only one ambulift at the domestic airport provided by Indian Airlines. An ambulift is like a hydraulic lift; it is driven right up to the aircraft and the platform is brought at level with the aircraft and the stretcher or wheelchair is simply rolled in.

The auditors say this exercise will be repeated at domestic airports all over the country.

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