By Mayank Jain:Â
A 30-year-old woman, who is blind by birth had to go across railway tracks to reach the platform. She lost her balance and fell. The train ran over her arm and she had to get it amputated. Her name is Anita Tai; she runs a cutlery business in trains like 300 other visually impaired families near Vangani station in Maharashtra. The problem is, that their lives are in the constant danger at the railway station.
The tracks have to be crossed because there is no bridge to reach platforms and the blind population finds it almost impossible to reach the platform safely. Hazards and accidents like Anita Tai’s claimed a lot many victims in a similar fashion and authorities didn’t care to make the railway station disabled friendly or at least build a bridge to make the villagers’ life a little easier. But, a petition changed all of this.Â The petition started by Amol Lalzare and Dr. Atul Jaiswal towards the General Manager of Central Railways to appeal for making the station disabled friendly and to get that bridge built, received huge community support, surpassed the target signatures and change followed.
The petition specifically asked for the bridge to be built to allow easier access to the platform for commuters and asked for immediate Railway Police support in ensuring that only disabled people are able to reserve seats in the disabled coach. The campaign was carried out on a lot of platforms and voices raised together got a total number of 6,366 signatoriesÂ and the petition was forwarded to the concerned authorities. On the other hand, people were also appealed to call up the manager on his phone and put pressure on him and it resulted in an urgent meeting on the issue and central government allocating funds for the same.
1.5 crores have been sanctioned by the Centre for the bridge and a tender has been floated for the same. Hope is not a bad thing after all. These citizens who chose to speak up found support within no time and they could bring the change all by themselves.
It is despicable though that sensitive issues like disabled friendly railway stations are still not pervasive in the country with a huge population suffering from disabilities. The need to take up these issues and raise voices is unfortunate and cumbersome for some people. Survival is difficult for the poor in this country and they can’t be expected to become activists and fight for their rights when they have to feed their family. Online activism has provided the required boost but government’s apathy towards such issues is very much visible.
While we all love to revel in victories like these and share the rise of culture of speaking out, there is always a hope that one day there won’t be the need for petitions and people will be taken care of without asking and pleading for their rights.