Hope floats for the blind

Who says Mumbai doesn’t have a heart? The Central Railway (CR) yesterday announced that it had sanctioned the building of a second foot over-bridge at Vangani station near Badlapur — to make sure the 350-odd visually impaired residents of the area did not have to cross the railway tracks and risk their lives every day. The decision was promoted by a petition signed by 6,273 local residents, which was submitted to CR officials recently. Students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) also shot a documentary on the plight of these blind men and women and showed it to CR officials, forcing them to act.

The absence of a foot over-bridge compels the visually impaired to cross tracks, thereby risking their lives. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar

Currently, Vangani station has one foot over-bridge. Unfortunately, most residents live on the opposite side of this over-bridge and to reach the station therefore, they have to cross the tracks. While this is dangerous for all residents, since they risk coming in the way of an oncoming train every day, for the visually impaired, it’s even more so.  Two social workers first brought the strange plight of the 350-odd visually impaired residents of the area to the notice of the authorities. 

In December 2012, they shot a documentary showing the dangers faced by residents every day and put up an online petition requesting locals to sign it. They also went on a door-to-door campaign to collect physical signaturesfrom residents. Atul Jaiswal, one of the two men who kick started the campaign, told SMD: “We started off in December after the TISS approached us and told us to shoot a documentary. We also ran a signature campaign while we shot the documentary and showed it to the CR authorities in March. We are delighted that we have received a positive response from them.”

When contacted, a CR spokesperson, said, “The expansion of the FOB has been sanctioned and the estimated cost of the new FOB is about Rs 1.5 crore. The construction will start very soon.” 


About the campaign
Four months ago, two social workers, Atul and Amol started a petition on asking the General Manager, Central Railways to build a foot-over bridge at Vanghani station (near Mumbai) to help 350 visually impaired residents cross the railway tracks safely.
After mobilising thousands of people, hundreds of phone calls and multiple meetings with the Central Railways, they won!
6273 people signed their petition, putting pressure on the Central Railway authorities. The bridge will now help thousands of people to safely cross the Railway tracks - reducing accidents and deaths in the area.

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