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State Has To Formulate Policy On Religious Structures 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Societies across Mumbai have been warned against putting up unauthorised religious structures in the city. If only it fetched a material change at the grass-root level, there would be no problem whatsoever, says Gajanan Khergamker 

A High Court division bench of Justices PB Majmudar and Mridula Bhatkar had even asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to publish advertisements in newspapers warning people and housing societies against constructing such structures.

‘Make God happy, keep it legal too’

“Make God happy without doing anything illegal. Any unauthorised religious structure should not be permitted, even inside housing societies,” said Justice PB Majmudar while hearing a petition challenging the construction of an illegal temple in the compound of a Prabhadevi housing society.

The High Court asked the BMC to demolish a Sai Baba temple which was illegally built in the compound of the Western Prabhadevi (Flat Owners) Co-Operative Housing Society (WPFOCHA). The court instructed the BMC not to touch the deity. BMC advocate Vidya Gharpure told the court the corporation had already demolished the temple and that just a pedestal was to be demolished.

“We have not touched the deity as per the HC order,” said Gharpure. The HC even reprimanded the cooperative housing society for acting illegally. “If you want to please God, don’t take law in your hands,” said justice Majmudar. Law rests upon facts and statute. But, that is only till it runs into religion which is modelled on a lot beyond fact like heresay, tradition, custom and more. Much on the lines of the mother of all demolitions – the Babri Masjid demolition which turned into an iconic event for years to follow – the authorities tend to shy from demolishing religious structures however illegal may be their status.

Maintain credibility with force of law

To retain credibility, the law-enforcer needs to be secular. In 2007, it may be recalled, IPS officer Suresh Khopde suggested religious symbols be removed from police stations and a circular enforcing the ban was issued. The entire force went up in arms over the circular that was just not enforced. Khopde then suggested that instead of observing just Hindu religious days, the police should celebrate festivals of other religious groups.

A lot of members of minority communities have doubts on the non-sectarian nature of the police. And, to dispel the notion, last year Mumbra resident Abdul Rehman Milli filed a series of RTI applications to 90-odd police stations across the city asking them whether they had religious symbols in their premises.

While most police stations didn’t bother replying to the RTI applications, around 30 replied and a majority said they didn’t have any religious symbols in their premises. Now, to check the validity of their claim, he would have to personally visit each and every police station, an ordeal that would be nearly impossible.

But, it is an open indication of a religious bias that the force has tried had to contain but continues to fail miserably. Milli, on his part, isn’t convinced just like million others. When last year, the BMC’s deputy municipal commissioner (specials) issued demolition notices to 729 illegal religious structures across the city, based on a Bombay High Court order, it irked residents across the city irrespective of religion. After all, it affected them all.

When notices were put up to demolish four crosses in Bandra, Catholic groups like the Bombay Catholic Sabha (BCS), Association of Concerned Catholics in Mumbai (ACCM), The Mumbai Gaothan Panchayat and Wake Up Bandra registered huge protests outside the city’s H (west) ward office. As a mark of solidarity, they brought crosses from their homes at the protest. Soon after, Catholics living in DN Singh lane, Mazgaon were shocked to find a cross, allegedly in existence since 1936, demolished by the BMC.

Demolitions occur despite assurances

Despite assurance of no crosses being demolished if proved old, the demolition occurred even as the BMC claimed residents did not have proof nor did they get the directive of 15 days or four week extension from the higher-ups to hold on to the demolition.

“We have been praying here for the past 50 years. The cross was here from the time my in-laws lived and was built in 1936. How can they claim that it was not there?” had claimed a 67-year-old Eliza Cannados to a section of the media. In March last, in an attempt to assuage sentiments, the Bombay High Court suggested all religious leaders to come together and take a decision to dissuade community members from constructing religious structures on public space.

“The state government has decided to frame a policy. Religious groups and their leaders should come forward and ensure that this does not happen in the future," a Division Bench of Justices Ranjana Desai and R G Ketkar observed.

State files affidavit, BCS withdraws plea 

In response, the state government filed an affidavit stating that the Chief Minister had passed a Government Resolution (GR) dated March 14 staying demolition of all unauthorised religious structures on public roads till a proper policy is in place. However, unauthorised religious structures which have come up after the Supreme Court order will be demolished by the BMC, the affidavit stated.

In view of the GR, the Bombay Catholic Sabha withdrew its petition. The government should consult various religious leaders and take their suggestions while framing the policy, had suggested the court then.

Need to frame a policy

In March last year, in an attempt to assuage sentiments, the Bombay High Court suggested that all religious leaders come together and take a decision to dissuade community members from constructing religious structures on public said, ‘The state govt has decided to frame a policy. Religious groups and their leaders should come forward and ensure that this does not happen in the future.’


More Trees Are Felled Than Replanted

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Little initiative is taken to maintain green spaces created for vested interests, says Gajanan Khergamker

While just about everyone who’s anyone waxes eloquently about green movements and their love for trees, there’s little being done at grass-root level. Remember the tree which fell opposite Inox at Nariman Point leaving a gaping hole in the pavement. After that happened, all was forgotten.

A Right To Information application to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) garden department and tree authority had revealed that of the 26,039 trees felled from the period between April 2008 and March 2011, 14,877 were cut for ‘development’ while the rest 11,162 trees felled as they “obstructed traffic.”

Now, according to the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation of Trees Act, two trees must be planted for every tree cut or the uprooted tree must be transplanted. So, the 14,877 trees cut for ‘development’ should have been followed with replanting of 29,754 trees. According to data furbished by the BMC, only 5,604 trees have been planted from 2008 to 2010 and, experts maintain, not more than 5,000 were planted in the 2010-2011 period. For the trees felled for ‘obstructing traffic’, the BMC has – on its part - planted 22,037 trees. By the ‘must replant two as rule’ logic, if 26,039 trees were felled in the said period, 52,078 trees should have been planted in strict accordance with the Act.

There are a few loopholes and snags which need to be resolved in order to ensure the purpose of the Act is fulfilled in principle and practice. Like, at the time of handing over the occupation certificate, a thorough inspection of the developed site does not occur. This should be preceded by a strict survey by the Tree Authority and the garden department authorities which must ensure the requisite numbers of trees are replanted by the developer.

Also, that the developers don’t quite maintain the trees planted in place of those felled is evident in the fact that the deposit of Rs 2,000 - as laid down by the Act, for each tree cut to be refunded only if the tree planted in place grows satisfactorily – is not claimed at all. This indicates developers aren’t planting the trees being felled in the name of ‘development.’

New York, incidentally, despite having more high-rises than Mumbai, has an average of five trees per person. Back home, in 2009, over 2,000 trees were ‘required’ to be felled for the Middle Vaitarna Dam project and there was a proposal to cut 111 trees for the Mahatma Gandhi swimming pool in Mahim also, 1,000-odd trees had to be felled for the Bhandup Water Complex.

In the name of development, roads are widened to accommodate parking and sidewalks / pavements reduced as “very few pedestrians anyway use them,” leading to existing trees barely being able to hold on and…eventually die! There is a proposal to cut down two rain trees outside the Catering College at Dadar because they were a ‘nuisance,’ and ‘caused accidents’. This, despite the fact that the trees have been standing there for nearly a century and there was no report of anyone crashing into those trees. A sea of residents opposed the proposal and High Court intervened ensuring the trees were not felled.

Sadly, in the name of making the city green, a lot of cooperative housing societies and landlords ‘create’ green spaces where there exist none in development plans only to boost their realty prospects. The presence of a slum near a residential structure has direct relevance to the selling price affecting it adversely.

Concurrently, the presence of a ‘garden’ or a green patch provides the prerequisite boost to sellers who can pitch for a bit more. However, in green spaces created for vested interests, there’s little by way of initiative in ensuring they are maintained well.

City registers tree falls every year

It’s during monsoons that hit Mumbai when most of the trees buckle under the onslaught of rains, some breaking, others getting completely uprooted.

Following the first showers, traffic moves at snail’s-pace dodging branches and trunks that swoop precariously weighed by the rainfall, onto the city’s roads. “It’s sad that the authorities never  foresee this well in advance,” says Charni Road resident and environmentalist Kabir Kartik. “When they go about pruning trees branches throughout the year around anticipating rains and subsequent tree-falls, the presume that they’ve solved the issue and trees won’t fall but they always,” he says.

But, as history has it, the first week of rainfall in Mumbai fetches umpteen tree-falls, subsequent commuting issues for vehicle owners and traffic-jams. What makes matters worse it the inbuilt risk of a tree falling on a moving vehicle or an unassuming pedestrian. Not that it deters the civic authorities in any manner.

Year after year, dozens of trees buckle under the onslaught of heavy rains and gusty winds that accompany showers. Like B.Com student Devyani Mehta who studies in a Churchgate-based college, there’re scores of unwary pedestrians and two-wheeler riders who’re caught completely off-guard when a tree, among the rows interlining lanes, cracks and falls bang in the middle of the the road.

Chandrakant Halkar’s six-month-old Toyota was smashed by a tree that collapsed on it while it was parked near Electric House during last year’s downpour. “After having driven it so carefully on road during the first rains, considering it gets so slippery and dangerous, it was the last straw for me when a tree fell on it while it was parked!” says an astounded Halkar. “The hood of the car is smashed even its windshield shattered with the impact,” rues Halkar.

 “Our college street, interlined with tall trees looks beautiful but once it rains, the entire scenario changes,” says a Jai Hind College student. “Trees that fall in the middle of the road following the first rains usually create a huge traffic issue for vehicle-owners who’re either pushing their two-wheelers through the branches or driving through them in their cars while avoiding pedestrians too,” she says. While NGOs and resident societies go gung-ho over turning Mumbai into a cleaner, greener place, it’s imperative to ensure that the trees planted don’t get out of shape and are maintained well. The surging number of trees that fall during the monsoons only indicates the fact that there is absolutely no upkeep for the trees once they are planted.

The onus of their upkeep rests on the civic authorities as well as societies / residents planting the trees. Nobody is held responsible for the fall of a tree during monsoons or otherwise. Till then, the onus lies on the Tree Authority.


Drunk Driving Continues To Kill  

Monday, April 09, 2012

‘Drinking and driving’ makes news only when a celebrity knocks down someone or is hit, writes Gajanan Khergamker

Charu Khandal is paralysed indefinitely, The animator and national award winner for Ra.One was seriously injured in an accident on the morning of March 25. Two others with her during the incident too were badly wounded.

The catastrophe occurred when twenty-eight-year-old Charu was returning home in an auto-rickshaw with her sister and friend after a party she had thrown following her success at the national awards. Incidentally, the auto turned turtle and the animator received injuries on her head and spine.

The car which struck Charu’s rickshaw was allegedly being driven by a drunk driver then arrested for rash and negligent driving and later released on bail.

Charu’s association with Shah Rukh Khan’s Ra One and a concurrent Facebook campaign to fetch justice for Charu helped bring again into focus the issue of drunk driving and speeding.

There has been a rise of 118 per cent in fatal bike accidents over nine years and between 2001 and 2009, the rise in casualties in such mishaps has been 131 per cent.

A Right to Information (RTI) Act query to the Mumbai traffic police revealed that in 2001, 38 people were killed in 38 bike accidents, and the number soar to 88 in 83 mishaps in 2009. Between January 2002 and March 2010, an average of 72 people were killed every year in two-wheeler accidents. The corresponding rise in four-wheeler fatal accidents is 6.9  per cent and the increase in number of casualties is 6.6 per cent.

In 2001, 396 people were killed in 374 accidents, while in 2009, the fatality rose to 422 in 400 accidents. In case of three-wheelers, the increase in accidents over the same period was about 7.6 per cent. There was a ten per cent decline in accident rates involving other vehicles. Between 2001 and 2009, the number of seriously injured grew by 40 per cent with 511 people seriously injured in 2009 while it was 385 in 2001.

In the case of car accidents, the number increased from 1,146 in 2001 to 1,207 in 2009. The number of people seriously injured in these rose from 1,205 to 1,305. In the case of three-wheelers, the rise in non-fatal accidents involving serious injuries was 5.4 per cent. The information further revealed that an average 572 people have died every year in road accidents between January 2001 and March 2010.

During the period, a total of 5,324 died in 5,135 mishaps. The traffic department claimed that it had been conducting awareness drives to inculcate better traffic sense and discipline, but the figures proved that much more required to be done.

Last lap

On March 31st this year, 18-year-old Shivani Raut died in a car crash, while six others were hospitalised following an accident near an ATM?after the driver lost control and hit a tree before hitting a stationary autorickshaw. Police sources claim that the friend, 23-year-old Rahul Mishra was driving the car in an inebriated state.

The accident happened near an ATM, after the driver lost control and hit a tree, before ramming straight into a stationary autorikshaw. Rahul Mishra was charged for rash driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and culpable homicide not amounting murder.

Mumbai Police, which had registered more than 11,000 drunk driving cases each year since 2008, has registered over 3,000 cases this year and suspended more than 38,000 driving licenses for drunken driving since 2007.

Drunk and deadly!

In 2010, inebriated India-born US national and beautician Nooriya Haveliwala killed two persons. In court, four eye witnesses identified Haveliwala as the accused who was driving the car and ran over people under the influence of alcohol. The figures of drunk and driving instances may well be a lot higher than reported if the authorities actually implemented the law instead of merely concentrating on ‘spot’ detections such as jumping signals or failure to wear helmets.

Need to nip the scourge

Charu Khandal’s association with Shah Rukh Khan’s Ra One and a concurrent Facebook campaign to fetch justice for Charu helped to bring into focus the issue of drunk driving and speeding. Sadly, while the issue of drunken driving could well have moved centre stage and the move towards nipping the scourge, closer to success, the entire focus was sadly shifted to Shah Rukh Khan’s visit to the hospital and the victim being ‘awake’ at that time.

Stars struck ... and literally!

Who: Salman Khan
When:  28th September 2002
Details: Actor Salman Khan had run over some pavement dwellers in Bandra, Mumbai with his Land Cruiser. He surrendered before the Bandra police more than eight hours after the accident. Salman was taken for medical tests while his lawyer secured bail in the Bandra police station.

He had driven his jeep over some people sleeping outside American Express Bakery on Hill Road junction in Bandra, Mumbai, killing one and causing serious injuries to three persons. The deceased and the injured were A1 Bakery employees sleeping outside American Express Bakery. According to witnesses, Salman’s car was completely destroyed.

After the accident, people gathered at the spot even allegedly beat up the actor, who fled from the spot along with Kamaal Khan.

Who: Ronit Roy
When: 28th October 2011
Details: At around 6:30 a.m. while driving his Mercedes on Link Road near Andheri, TV actor Ronit Roy, rammed his car into another injuring three of its four occupants, including an elderly lady. At the time of the accident, Ronit did go out and to help the injured and took them to hospital but all this was done without informing the police. The police arrested him on the victim’s complaint. A court later granted him bail of Rs. 12,000, after being charged under Indian Penal Code Section 279 (rash driving) and 338 (causing grievous injury endangering lives).

Who: Sanjay Dutt
When: 3rd October 2011
Details: Last year, returning from Ranbir Kapoor birthday party, Sanjay Dutt, was caught on camera driving his car while under the influence of alcohol. Apparently, Sanjay Dutt got completely drunk and it was birthday boy Ranbir Kapoor who had to come out to drop him near his car. Despite being extremely sloshed, Sanjay insisted his drivers to take a backseat. Sanjay Dutt took the charge of the driver’s seat and drove till his home.

Who: Aditya Panscholi
When: July 1999
Details: More than a decade ago, Actor Aditya Panscholi was caught driving his car while under the influence of alcohol. The actor was driving a van that crashed into two policemen patrolling Santacruz on a motorcycle, injuring them.

Panscholi was charged under sections 279 and 338 for rash and negligent driving and 185 for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was later released on bail.


Bikers Cause More Accidents Than Motorists

Monday, August 20, 2012

Two-wheeler riders commit the most parking offences; regularly flout parking norms, writes Gajanan Khergamker

For a city as crowded as Mumbai, where the rate of influx of migrants into the city far exceed those moving out and vehicle sales continue unabated, despite a dearth in civic resources, ‘parking’ remains a very pressing issue. Lack of parking space has always been a problem in the city and double and triple parking aren’t uncommon sight. Rules are flouted, sadly, as a norm.

When it comes to committing parking offences and flouting parking norms, ruling the roost are none other than two-wheeler riders.

Most violations by two-wheeler riders

An RTI application filed by activist Chetan Kothari earlier this month revealed most of traffic rule violations take place at the hands of two-wheeler riders.

According to the reply received by the activist, out of the 2.12 lakh parking offences recorded this year, 48 per cent involved motorcyclists, fetching the government over Rs one crore in fines. Close on their heels, were the four-wheeler drivers with 30 per cent booked for breaking traffic rules and simultaneously adding Rs 61 lakh in fines.

Surprisingly, only five BEST buses were booked for flouting rules and had the least number of offences recorded against their names. Experts blame this on not having enough parking spaces in the city despite thousands of vehicles being added to the city roads every day.

Other than just flouting parking rules, in recent times, motorcyclist have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Right from speeding, assaulting, breaking traffic signals, riding in the wrong lane to drunk drivings, most road mishaps had a motorcyclist involved.

A couple of month back, a police constable was knocked down by a speeding biker in Borivli. The drunk rider had rammed his motorcycle onto the constable who posted for election bandobast. The constable in question hit his head on the ground from the impact while the 18-year-old drunk motorcyclist tried to escape from the spot but was nabbed by other policemen on duty. Incidentally, the motorcyclist didn’t even have licence on him at that moment.

In another incident, a 35-year-old, reportedly, had a miscarriage after being trashed by a motorcyclist and his family members. According to the victim, a riding motorcyclist lost control and hit her, following which she chided him for failing to take care.

Reportedly, the motorcyclist lost his cool and, alighting from his vehicle, embarked on giving her a sound thrashing.

He was also joined in by his relatives in trashing the lady. The victim, who had conceived six years into marriage, after opting to have a test tube baby, suffered a miscarriage. The assaulters fled the scene after beating up the woman. One of the accused was later arrested by the police.

Reckless riding by under-aged drivers 

Reckless riding, particularly by those under-aged, contributes heavily to traffic violations. Just last year, a 21-year-old college student was killed after a speeding bike rammed into her in front of her college in Tamil Nadu.

The biker was a 15-year-old boy. Then, back in Mumbai, the traffic police had, in a surprise check, cracked down on 942 two-wheeler riders for flouting various rules ranging from rash driving and lane cutting.

Last month, a 16-year-old was arrested for riding his vehicle onto a police constable at Dadar. The boy’s 30-year-old uncle was riding pillion on the bike when the boy decided to ride his father’s bike.

Many motorcyclists care poor little for norms and flout traffic rules quite regularly. Just a couple of days ago, a traffic constable was trashed by a biker after he was stopped for plying on JJ flyover. When the constable tried to stop the biker, his bike skidded injuring him and the pillion (a woman). The biker, along with the pillion, then proceeded to beat the traffic cop. Two persons atop a Scooty too stopped by to join in the violence.

All four of them fled the scene. CCTV footage revealed their vehicles’ registration numbers and they were nabbed soon after. The accused were booked for assaulting a government servant, obstructing a policeman from discharging his duties and for criminal intimidation. They were produced in a court on Saturday and released on bail.

Many bikers are often found plying on JJ flyover in spite of two-wheelers being banned on the flyover. And, not just civilians, police and traffic cops too, are among these ‘notorious’ bike riders.

Last month, a car knocked down a motorcyclist and the pillion rider atop the JJ flyover, seriously injuring the pillion. The biker and the pillion were police constables themselves! The car driver arranged for the injured constable to be sent to the hospital and was later arrested.

Bikers’ failure to follow law kills

Not wearing helmets is another offence that most of bikers commit without any fear for their life. Just recently a biker lost his life on the Mumbai –Bangalore flyover after he lost control of his speeding bike and rammed into a stone on the side of the road. He died on the spot. The police said his life could have been saved had he been wearing a helmet.

In India, statistics reveal that almost 4,00,000 road accidents occur each year. WHO report predicts that by the year 2020, the major killer in India will be road accidents and will account to almost 5,46,000 deaths alone. In fact, the accident rate in India 35 per 1,000 vehicles is one of the highest in the world. And, it has been reported that most road accidents involve two-wheeler riders.


Need For State To Get Sensitive, Inclusive

Monday, June 25, 2012

Despite talk of sensitising and making life for the disabled easier, the State does nothing, writes Gajanan Khergamker

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security found itself in a sticky situation as their regulations ensuring security ticked off the Disabled Rights Group.

When the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) regulations read that there is a high probability of differently-abled people carrying weapons, explosives and other dangerous materials with them, and therefore, there is ample reason to be more alert and wary, the Disabled Rights Group (DRG) saw it as an ‘outright insult’. Describing the regulations as “disability insensitive, an outright insult and a violation of the human rights of persons with disability”, the group took umbrage with the norms which said, “Screeners should be thoroughly briefed that the possibility of carrying weapons/explosives and other dangerous materials through such passengers is higher than a normal passenger and therefore, these passengers need to be checked with care.”

So, DRG went ahead and filed a Right To Information query to which the Airports Authority of India (AAI) replied saying, “There is no scope for leniency in respect of invalid / disabled / sick persons during the pre-embarkation screening/procedures. On the contrary, there is ample reason to be more alert and wary.” Owing to this very attitude, disabled persons are force to face what they perceive as “undue harassment” at the hands of untrained and insensitive security personnel.

Very often, disabled passengers using wheelchairs are asked to “stand up” or “transfer” from their personal wheelchair to sub-standard airport wheelchairs by personel who don’t realise that most wheelchair users use customised wheelchairs and cushions.

India is sadly way behind other nations in this respect and needs to urgently upgrade its legal processes where the disabled aren’t treated differently or put through excessive or challenging situations solely owing to their inabilities.

Across borders, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), for instance, has a dedicated helpline to assist travellers with disabilities and medical conditions.  Passengers can call three days ahead of travel for information about what to expect during screening. Its a dedicated resource specifically for those with disabilities, medical conditions or other circumstances keen on being prepared for the screening process prior to flying.

Incensed with norms that are outright insulting, DRG maintains that “nowhere in the world will a disabled person be asked to take off leg braces, or explain medical attachments like a leg bag that holds urine”.

Directorate of Civil Aviation guidelines maintain a passenger is allowed to take her/his own wheelchair to the boarding gates yet security personnel bully those who are not aware of their rights.

Even countries with a larger security threats and stricter security programmes have well-defined guidelines for screening passengers with disabilities. It would be considered blasphemous for a disabled passenger using a wheelchair to be asked to ‘get up’ at any airport in the U.S., the U.K., the European Union or even countries like South Africa, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Korea, Thailand, and UAE.

There is a definite apathy on the part of the Indian state which refuses to enforce the law empowering the disabled and make structures and public transport accessible. Although there’s every intention to create friendlier infrastructure for the country’s 70 million people with disabilities, the state has done precious little.

ADAPT which works actively in the areas of accessibility rights for the disabled was shocked to find lapses when it conducted an audit of government buildings and facilities.

Why, until 2005, even the Bombay High Court didn’t have a disabled-friendly toilet. It was only when some challenged litigants brought the issue to its attention that it was addressed.

How many elevators in public structures have floor buttons that are disabled friendly? There are just a handful of disabled-friendly toilets in the entire city.
And, almost as if the visually-impaired only commute in and around the National Association of the Blind at Worli, only the signal outside the Association’s office has an audio-visual traffic signal. Where the rest of the city is concerned, there’s little in store for the disabled. Sadly, few private organisations tend to consider the needs of the disabled or challenged. With the state itself brushing the issue of need below the carpet, private players are bound to turn a blind eye to the same.

Among the sea of projects that include private and public projects, how many of them actually conform to the law or keep the interest of the disabled in mind while designing or developing amenities? As a disabled rights activist maintained in a section of the media, “It is understandably difficult to modify existing structures but what is the excuse for the constructions that have come up after 1995, when guidelines were legally mandated.”

The inability of a physically challenged person to commute is his biggest disability that restricts his movement and potential. By law, there is a three per cent reservation for those with disabilities but it’s travelling to and from one’s workplace that poses a larger challenge, had aptly voiced Javed Abidi, a disability rights activist and director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP).

Despite the Bombay High Court directing the Central Railway and Western Railway to figure ways to make stations and trains accessible to those with disabilities in 2009, three years later with the exception of a few, most stations do not even have basic ramps.

“Considering the hurtle for catching a train in Mumbai, it’s near impossible for one with a disability to be able to commute,” says scribe Nileema Shah. More so, since railway stations have over-bridges between platforms which make it even more difficult for the disabled or wheelchair-bound traveller to use.

And, even if he / she reaches the platform, it is impossible to board a train owing to the difference between the platform and the train as well as the gap between the platform and train. Eliminating the gap would  be the most obvious option but one that isn’t feasible considering different railway stations are of different heights.

Why, even BEST buses are as insensitive to disabled needs and continue to ignore the obvious.


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