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Make public transport disabled-friendly

Twelve years ago, this paper did a proactive story in which a reporter on a wheelchair checked how disabled-friendly the city’s public transport was. It was observed that none of BEST, local trains were accessible to the disabled.

Over the years, public transport in Mumbai has drastically changed, with the Metro and Monorail being its newest faces. But, can a person with disabilities (PWD) really travel with ease on these public transportation modes without any issues? No.

Two days ago, one of our reporters posed as a wheelchair-bound person with another reporter as a friend, and checked how accessible the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) Metro is.

While the staff assisted her at all possible junctures, her experience with footpaths and ramps at entry and exit points was not good. At some stations, ramps connecting the road and footpath are uneven.

At two places, the ramp itself is missing. This is nothing short of a nightmare for a PWD, especially one who travels alone. It also proves that the government hasn’t bothered to provide or maintain better connectivity for PWDs. How will one travel if the lift connecting to the road below the Metro isn’t working?

On the other hand, the situation at malls, multiplexes and five-star hotels in the city is the exact opposite. At these places, there are proper arrangements for PWDs to enter and move about easily. There is foresight and vision which can be seen in the well-constructed ramps which ensure that PWDs are not inconvenienced in any manner.

It’s high time the government which makes big promises about mega infrastructure projects learns a lesson from these malls and other entertainment centres as to how to one can make a place more accessible to all.

The planning bodies should include them right in the conception stage, so that during implementation, these facilities are taken care. It’s imperative and the duty of the government to ensure PWDs, like everyone else, are comfortable on public transport.

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