Chennai: The Chennai Metro Rail Ltd. (CMRL) has started taking steps to make its stations better for the disabled. Though the facilities are built as per international norms, activists had suggested improvements. Metro officials will hold talks with an access consultant nominated by Disability Rights Alliance (DRA) to make stations and trains disabled-friendly.
The move comes after volunteers of DRA travelled on trains to conduct an access audit, and submitted a report. DRA member Smitha S said the group suggested that an access consultant would work full time on the field with metro rail. “We have also suggested a third party audit. The consultant has now been called for a meeting to decide further course of action on Wednesday. A consultant from Agate Infotek has been identified as per the specifications provided by metro rail.”
She also said that the consultant would offer a training module on how to conduct in-house access audits so that the standards are met when future modifications are done. Shankar from Agate Infotek, who has been selected as the consultant by DRA, the meeting may look at ways to plan accessibility and changes to be made. “This is a preliminary meeting,” he said.
DRA had suggested metro rail to update design and procurement standards, compliance inspection by commissioner of metro rail safety, and training and orientation of staff. This was the outcome of a trip on the metro rail for an access audit which showed that the stations and trains were not freely accessible to disabled people travelling alone. Activists found that access pathways to the stations, ticket counters and platforms needed improvement.
A metro rail official said that the stations were designed as per international norms. “We are trying to take feedback from disabled rights volunteers to make further improvement,” he said. DRA has been in touch with metro rail officials since the construction began. “We have been suggesting that the international design should be customised for Indian requirements,” said Smitha.