The city fails them

Jun 16 2014, 05:28 IST
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SummaryIn fast-developing Delhi, urban transport has undergone a sea change in the last decade.

In fast-developing Delhi, urban transport has undergone a sea change in the last decade. But how accessible are the delhi metro, dtc buses and the railways to the differently abled? Sumegha Gulati finds out

Mahesh Kumar (40) takes the Blue Line Metro daily from Uttam Nagar, where he lives, to Tagore Garden, where he teaches in a government school. In November 2013, this visually impaired man reached the Uttam Nagar (West) Metro station to board the train as usual. He was in the lift going up to the platform, when he heard the train. He asked a fellow passenger if the train had arrived. On being told it has, Kumar decided to hurry. He did not have a Metro assistant escorting him that day — he had asked for one but nobody was “free”. So he walked unescorted towards the train. Before he knew it, he lost his balance and fell onto the tracks. Mercifully, there was no train coming on that track and Kumar escaped with minor injuries.

“I was walking at the very edge of the platform and yet nobody paid attention. It was only after I fell that people screamed. That alerted the DMRC staff who came and helped me get up. Usually, I get a Metro assistant to escort me till the train. But if none are available, we have to walk alone,” Kumar said.

His plight is mirrored by other visually challenged persons who commute on Delhi’s Metro, buses and trains every day. In the past three years, more than 30 visually challenged persons approached the National Federation of the Blind with complaints after they fell off the platforms of various Metro stations in the city.

But such incidents involving the disabled are not limited to the Metro system alone. Similar accidents on Delhi’s buses and at railway platforms show clearly that the capital has a long way to go when it comes to making its public spaces, particularly urban transport, disabled-friendly.

Needed: Preventive barriers on Metro platforms, helpers for visually impaired

Vice-president of National Federation of the Blind Inder Singh says the most critical problem the disabled, particularly visually challenged, face at Metro stations is the problem of falling on the tracks due to the gap between the coaches and

the platforms.

“The rubber-strips between the coaches and platforms are worn out. As a result, many visually challenged people end up hurting themselves. The most recent case is that of

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