THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: When Ashla Rani, executive assistant to the chairman of Pallium India, was asked about the capital city’s attitude towards the differently-abled, she says: “The city is very unfriendly.” She then goes on to substantiate. “I was travelling through a wheelchair-accessible path in my wheelchair. But I was hindered by a vehicle that was parked on the path. As a result, I had to find another path. Commuters are unconcerned about the differently-abled when they park their vehicles mindlessly,” she says.
Similarly, a four-year-old was denied admission to a prestigious school after a spinal cord injury. “School authorities were concerned if they would lose out on other admissions if a differently-abled was admitted,” Ashla says.
Another differently-abled person points out that she was taken to the Napier Museum with the help of people, both in 2011 and 2018. Even when the government implements initiatives to make the city disabled-friendly, government offices, railway stations and public transport remain inaccessible. “Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is disabled-friendly but accessing the platforms at Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station is a tedious task,” says C I Varghese, general secretary of Welfare Association for Visually Challenged. Citing the pathetic situation of the ramps at various places for the differently-abled people, Ashla says: “Ramps are built unscientifically.
A small step in itself is a barrier for wheelchairs.” She urges the government to consult experts before constructing ramps.
Nagendran Tambi is an amputee who lost both of his legs. He stays at Kuravankonam with his mentally-challenged daughter aged 44. Narrating his eagerness to come to the front and meet people, he says: “I want to feel the fresh air, rain and warmth. I lost one of my legs in 2011 and the other in 2018. I managed to use a wheelchair until 2018. Also, I lost my job and cannot afford to buy a wheelchair. It will be challenging to use a wheelchair with the current unfriendly city infrastructure.”
Offices, buses inaccessible
Even when the government implements initiatives to make the city disabled-friendly, government offices, railway stations and public transport continue to remain inaccessible