D.N.I.S. News Network - In an important move, the Indian Railways has announced a plan to make platforms and facilities under the Northern Railway friendly to disabled and senior citizens.
The announcement comes as a pleasant surprise to the disability sector as the Ministry of Railways had given a lukewarm response to a memorandum by N.C.P.E.D.P. for inclusion of disability issues in the Railway Budget 2005-06.
Responding to the memorandum, Indian Railways Joint Director, Establishment, B. Majumdar had said that as an organisation, the Railways was doing “enough” already as its “social obligation”, and it was not possible to make any separate budgetary allocation to implement some of the recommendations suggested. N.C.P.E.D.P. not only protested against the casual attitude that was reflected in the letter but also released the same of the media.
Under the new proposal, 40 railway stations falling under its division in North India will be revamped. Under the plan, ramps and additional facilities like separate ticket reservation windows, bathrooms, and walkways, train coaches and drinking water stands are in the offing.
The Railway Board has already given a go-ahead to this proposal, and efforts are on to complete work in at least 11 stations by the end of this financial year. An outlay of Rs. 1.34 crore has been allocated for development of the complete Delhi regions comprising these 11 stations.
“New Delhi railway station will be the first one to be completed. The scheduled date for completion of the proposed revamping is around first week of October,” said Northern Railway Chief Public Relations Officer. A pilot project to provide moveable ramps that can be moved and fitted to any platform at New Delhi railway station is also in the pipeline.
Senior Northern Railway officials said the stations would be made barrier free and easy to use for disabled people. In Delhi, the stations selected for these reconstructions include New Delhi, Old Delhi, Nizamuddin, Delhi Cantonment and Sarai Rohilla stations. These five stations would be developed as models for the future.
Speaking to mediapersons, the Chief Public Relations Officer said that in 2001 Budget the Ministry of Railways had spelled out a plan of action to make stations friendly to people with disabilities. Under this plan, short, medium and long-term goals were stated. In the short-term goal ‘A’ category stations were identified, in medium-term ‘B’ category and similarly in long-term ‘C’, ‘D’ and ‘E’ category, stations will be refashioned to make them accessible.
It is indeed very sad that plan developed in 2001 did not yield much result. Railways continue to be inaccessible and unsafe.
The disability sector has to be alert to the new development / plan to ensure that the plan is translated into reality.