Going home is a challenge for him
Ex-sportsman’s struggle exposes shortcomings at railway stations
On Saturday afternoon, K. B. Puttaswamy (55) was at Bangalore City Station waiting to see whether the Bangalore-Shimoga Passenger would arrive with or without a luggage van. A differently-abled person who is a former Paralympic athlete, he says, "Going to my home in Karakuchi village in Tarikere, Chikmagalur district, by train and returning is a struggle.”
He was waiting in the luggage section seated on a modified scooter. If the train had a luggage van, he would buy a ticket to Birur Junction, which is 35 kilometers from Karakuchi, before loading his scooter. If not, he would return home. Mr. Puttaswamy said he stands in a queue with others to get tickets. Even if others agree that he must be given priority in the queue, the issuing authorities disagree.
Sometimes, the electric cart deployed in the station to ferry physically challenged persons is not available. In such cases, it takes him longer to get the ticket. Once he gets the ticket, he manages to load the scooter in the luggage van with help from fellow passengers. But at Birur, he faces a big problem. The train reaches at 9.45 p.m. Often, there is no one to help him unload the scooter forcing him to depend on the goodwill of the Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE).
Prabhu Sankanagowda, another physically challenged former sportsman, said several such people who want to travel in trains with their vehicles have given up because they find the task daunting.
Anil Kumar Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Bangalore, said, "It is a problem of one person. He should meet the Deputy Station Manager (Commercial).”
V. S. Basavaraju, Executive Director, Association of People with Disabilities (APD), said organizations are working on the issue of access to people with disabilities, but the law is unclear on problems like the one faced by Mr. Puttaswamy.
Source: The Hindu