For people with disabilities rail travel will be more accessible, said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
More than 8,000 stations are there in India and around 3 crore people travel everyday by train. The railway infrastructure has not risen proportionately to the country's population increase, said the minister after presenting the NCPEDP Mphasis Universal Design Awards 2015 at the India International Center in Delhi.
Advertisement"I will ask mechanical department officials (of the railways) to look into how to make rail bogies accessible for disabled people," said Prabhu. However he said it might take some time and he was not making any false promises.
The act giving rights to disabled people came into effect in 1995 itself but the society still needs to change its mindset towards disabled people, he said.
As part of some companies' corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy, wheelchairs were available at the railway stations in Delhi and asked the private sector to contribute more in this connection. He also said there were elevators in many stations.
The railway minister asked more people to help out to get "sukh aur anand" (mental satisfaction), and not as part of CSR.
He also said that the disabled people's duty should be to always strive to go forward, while the duty of others should be to help them as much as they can.India has many websites that are inaccessible to the blind said Javed Abidi, honorary director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP).
He also said that blind people were unable to book tickets online, while the deaf were unable to talk to officials while at the stations as most people do not know sign language, while talking about the issues faced by disabled people. He also added that the train bogies were inaccessible to disabled people, and asked Prabhu to modify the coach designs to make them disabled-friendly.
Disabled people were also unable to make it through the overhead foot-bridges to go to the other platforms, said Abidi.
Also the identity document issued by the government to disabled people is not recognised by the railways for travel and they require a separate certificate for disability, he said. A host of awards were presented by Prabhu to individuals and companies for developing new designs and technologies for access to disabled people.
Among the awardees was Archana Konwar, a degree student from Assam's Dhemaji district who designed a crutch with shock absorbers, a bell and a light to alleviate the pain people feel while using crutches.