The Ministry of Railways has been asked to explain why only persons with 100% visual impairment were entitled to rail travel concession and not others with less but progressive and irreversible visual disability.
Passing orders on a petition filed under the Right to Information Act, 2005, why travel concession was being granted only to persons with 100% blindness and not to those less than that but with progressive and irreversible conditions, the Central Information Commission (CIC) directed the Chief Public Information Officer (CPIO) to furnish a correct, detailed and point-wise reply since the matter related to public interest.
The Indian Railways offers travel concession ranging between 25% and 75% to persons with disabilities (Divyangjan) categorised under four forms of disabilities and patients suffering from 11 ailments, such as cancer, AIDS, heart and kidney problems among others.
Among ‘Divyangjan’ are orthopedically handicapped/paraplegic persons who cannot travel without escort, mentally retarded person who cannot travel without escort, persons with total hearing and speech impairment (both afflictions together in the same person) travelling alone or with escort and persons with visual impairment with total absence of sight travelling alone or with escort.
Pointing out that travel concession was given only to 100% visually impaired persons, the petitioner wondered whether the same yardstick was applied to other modality of disabilities. If not, he wanted to know the reasons for the discrimination. “Even if a blind person is certified to be less than 100% and if the nature of blindness is permanent, progressive and cannot be rectified, then do such persons get concessions,” he asked and sought reasons as to why if they did not.
Referring to the concern of discrimination flagged by the petitioner, the CIC directed the CPIO to examine the matter and furnish a correct and detailed reply to the appellant along with copies of the relevant documents in accordance with the spirit of transparency and accountability as enshrined in the Act.