Madurai (MDU): Members of Tamil Nadu All Types of Disabled Protection and Rights Association staged a demonstration here on Wednesday, demanding simplification of the procedure for the differently abled people to get concession for rail travel.
The protest was led by association State secretary Namburajan and joint secretary Jeeva. The protestors said that booking online railway tickets required a unique identity number to be issued by the railway.
“Railway officials say that around 150 applications seeking the card number have been received in Madurai and it will take at least one more month for them to issue the cards to be used for booking tickets,” Mr. Jeeva said.
He said people of other sections like senior citizens had to give proof of age only during travel and not while booking tickets. “We would also like to get the same treatment while booking tickets. We will show the disability certificate and the identity card issued by the medical board while travelling,” he said.
Mr. Jeeva said that getting the cards from railway itself was a great ordeal for the differently abled people because all the differently abled from southern districts as far as Tirunelveli had to come to the Divisional Railway Office to get the card.
However, railway officials clarified that they did not have to come in person to apply for unique identity number, but could send the application through post or through representatives. “This move by the Railway Board is aimed at weeding out those who were misusing the concession meant for genuine differently abled persons,” a railway official said.
Charging that the new regulations put forth by the Indian Railways for booking e-tickets by the differently-abled as discriminatory, members of the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently-Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC) staged a protest in various parts of the state on Wednesday urging for simplified procedures.
Under the new norms issued, differently-abled are supposed to come to the respective divisional railway manager’s (DRM) office for registration purpose that involves long hours of travelling.
In Madurai, more than 300 members attached to TARATDAC staged a protest on Scot Road.
State secretary of TARATDAC, Namburajan, said, “It is very difficult for the differently-abled to travel long hours to register themselves at the divisional railway manager’s (DRM) office. Moreover, the rule for differently-abled to produce an identity card while travelling, is itself discriminatory. Equal treatment must be provided to the differently-abled similar to the ones given to senior citizens while booking an online ticket.”
In Trichy, about 50 differently-abled people gathered near the Junction station and organised a signature campaign and later handed it over to the DRM, A K Agarwal. He promised to take necessary steps after holding consultation with officials, according to J Jeyabal, president, TARATDAC, Trichy.
Later, they staged a protest after the signature campaign to stress their demand. Speaking at the protest, Jeyabal said, “At the time of booking e-tickets, senior citizens have to mention only their age for availing concession. They can furnish their age proof while undertaking their journey. However, differently-abled are not eligible for such simplified procedures.
“Every time we want to avail concession while booking tickets online, we are made to visit the DRM’s office to furnish differently-abled identity card apart from medical certificate. After verification, we are provided with a code which is then used to avail concession while booking tickets online,” he said.
“The railways is only considering us as a burden hence refusing to provide legitimate facilities. We are demanding concession on a par with senior citizens as many differently-abled suffer while travelling long distances to reach the DRM’s office just to get the code before booking tickets,” rued Jeyabal.