While CMRL says staff will be trained to handle disabled persons, group wants stations’ design to be shared

Preliminary discussions with Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) officials over how the public transport system will handle the requirements of the handicapped seems to have left members of the Disability Rights Alliance (DRA) — a group that seeks inclusive development — unhappy

While CMRL officials talk broadly about how their staff will be trained to handle disabled people — accompanying every disabled person to the exit for instance, DRA wants more robust, clear rules put in place.

“How practical would that be? When there is crisis, how can the staff accompany each and every disabled person? They may not be able to manage this,” said Rajeev Rajan, a member of DRA, who has cerebral palsy.

Smitha Sadasivan, 33, who has multiple sclerosis, said emergency exits at the stations, should be made accessible to disabled people. “We cannot rely on the staff to lead us to the exits in case of a problem. They should clearly tell us where the exits will be located and how they plan to make them accessible to us,” she said.

Chennai Metro Rail, built at a cost of Rs.14,600 crore, will have 19 underground and 12 elevated stations.

All stations will be disabled-friendly and comply with the ‘Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier Free Built Environment for Disabled and Elderly Persons’ given by the ministry of urban development, CMRL officials said in early 2012.

The stations will have amenities including non-slippery flooring, bumpy tiles to aid visually impaired persons, accessible toilets and ticket counters to help disabled persons.

Also, lifts will be equipped with grip-rails, audio announcements and Braille facilities.

“Officials will have to discuss their plans with us in detail. Only if they share their designs of the stations with us will we know if it will be convenient for disabled people. But when we made this request, they refused to share the designs with us,” Ms. Sadasivan added.

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