CHENNAI: The Egmore railway station is in the process of becoming more disabled-friendly with the construction of a series of new ramps with supporting railings. “Earlier the ramps would be in some corner. Now we are putting them at every entrance,” said a senior railway official.
Less than a year after the Madras High Court issued guidelines for the railways to ensure an accessible environment for the disabled, the station is working towards this end. According to Southern Railway officials, additional funds were sanctioned in the 2007-08 railway budget.
“Last year we started work with our own funds. This year we can spend up to Rs. 1 lakh for each work; for example just for the ramps. There are no longer any constraints on funds and the Chennai Division can spend Rs. 22 crore for passenger amenities alone,” the official said.
Within the last three months, two new ramps at each entrance, a separate parking lot and a separate counter for the physically challenged have been set up at Egmore. There is also a special washroom with railings and low level sinks and commodes that is open to the disabled on request. “We do not want others to use it. The sad thing is that even the ramps are being used more by motorcyclists,” said an official.
“Just putting in ramps is not enough,” pointed out Meenakshi. B, assistant coordinator of the Disability Legislation Unit of Vidhya Sagar, a non-profit organisation committed to the rights of disabled persons. “Disabled persons continue to face several hardships when using public transport,” she said.
Vidhya Sagar was at the forefront of bringing about the guidelines following a PIL filed by the coordinator of the Disability Legislation Unit, Rajeev Rajan.