Moved by a harrowing incident which occurred in the life of former Miss Wheelchair India runner-up Virali Modi while using the services of the Indian Railway, Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway station has come up with an innovation which is sure to bring smile on the faces of the physically challenged.
Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station has become the first station in the country to introduce a ramp and wheelchair facility for the physically challenged based on a offical order from Southern Railway.
“I have been groped and manhandled three separate times by porters. They were helping me board the train because Indian trains are not wheelchair accessible. I am a disabled woman living in Mumbai who loves to travel,” reads the petition of the #mytraintoo campaign by Virali Modi, who was the Miss Wheelchair India runner-up in 2014, motivational speaker and a model. She has been paraplegic since she was 14. This petition which has already gathered a support of nearly 10,00,000 people, was brought to the notice of the Southern Railways by former Thiruvananthapuram division DRM Sunil Bajpai.
Realizing the gravity of the situation, the Southern Railway promptly decided to work out a solution to provide a more dignified access for the less privileged. On February 20, an official order was released by Ajeet Saxena, chief commercial manager, Southern Railways to procure foldable wheelchair and portable ramps to be put into use from March 1. Acting upon this directive, the Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station has introduced ramp and wheelchair facility for the physically challenged. “While a normal wheelchair has a width of 24 inches, we are providing two foldable wheelchairs of which one has a width of 22 inches and the other 17 inches. This would facilitate an easy movement into the compartment using the specially designed ramp,” said Prakash Bhutani, divisional railway manager, Thiruvananthapuram Railway Division.
“In case if a lady requests for the assistance it will be made sure that there is a lady staff to oversee the assistance by the porters. We would be working on overcoming structural glitches in the ramp which we noticed during the trial,” said Sudheesh V C, senior divisional commercial manager. The wheelchairs were donated by the Lions club. The facility can be used by making a prior request at a cost of Rs 65.
On being updated about this development, Virali went on to tweet “Things are changing for the best!#mytraintoo”.