Disabled Associations to protest in four tomorrow; Booking Tickets online still a Hurdle; says Disabled

Chennai (MAS): Despite a hint of relief from the Railway Budget, members of the disabled community feel let down at the practical lack of resolution to their woes in booking tickets online.

Earlier this year, an announcement in the Railway Budget said the disabled could purchase concessional e-tickets after a one-time registration, addressing a long-pending demand of the community.

“But the process has been made extremely difficult. We have to go to one of the four divisional offices in Chennai, Tiruchi, Salem or Madurai, get a form, attach the necessary documents, and then submit the form at the office. How can disabled people from villages access these offices?” said S. Namburajan, State secretary, The Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of all Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers.

The organisation has planned an agitation in four cities on Wednesday.

A senior Southern Railway official, however, said there is no need for the disabled to go to divisional offices. “The forms can be downloaded online. All they have to do is send in their railway concession forms with the valid documents to one of the four offices,” he said.

P. Simmachandran, an activist who went to get registered at the Chennai office, said he had a difficult experience. “The office on the second floor is difficult to access. We were given a new form which is only available at the divisional offices. We have to fill in the registration number of the government doctor who signed our concession form. Then, verification is done and only after six months do we get a unique number that can be used to book online,” he said.

Activists wonder why the system could not be similar to the one that exists for senior citizens — they can book online and then produce concession proof while travelling.

The Association plans to protest in front of the divisional offices and collect signatures to submit a petition to the authorities.