Showing posts with label Development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Development. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Finally Railways plan to address access issues at select 1500 railway stations!

Indian Railways have been sitting over the access improvement plans over 10 years now. Several Writ petitions followed, but nothing more than assurances and promises came out. The Indian Railways have now decided to address access issues at some odd 1500 stations now which is nothing but a miniscule in such a vast country.

My Fears

  • And mind you, they say that they are doing it not because it is mandated under a binding Central Law called The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 but because of the continuous requests which are being received from the physically challenged people from all over India. What a cruel joke on the 14 year old Legislative Enactment of Indian Parliament!

  • If Railways execute the access solutions at the standards at which they are currently doing at many of the stations, I fear whether we will ever have accessibility at Indian Railway Stations and trains !

  • As long as you call alternate access ramps, reserved parking slots, low height water taps and accessible toilets to be special facilities, I doubt it would be sustainable! Answer lies in Universal Design! Why can't the stations be designed to be accessible to all based on universal design rather than special access to some.

  • Today, in the name of low height water taps, inaccessible taps have been built. Look at the socalled "accessible toilets" at stations. They remain either locked or are inaccessible. Ramps are slippery, there is no platform to platform connectivity. Wheelchairs are not available easilty at stations. Staff is often missing from "May I help you" counters. There is no awarness in the implementing contractors and engineers. What they consider accessible is actually not accessible.

Perceptions about Accessibility Differ from Actual Accessibility

The simple question- do you involve competent consultants and users to ensure that the end product is fault free? Perceptions of accessibility differ from person to person and this subjectivity kills the design and the usage of end product for the end user in absence of uniform universal design standards being adopted.


Subhash C. Vashishth

To read the news in detail click on links:

Times of India
Travel Biz Monitor

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sick Tea Industry, Thousands die a slow death. Is North Bengal being alienated in the Developmental Process ?

With great pain I read the news of North Bengal's dying tea gardens and the vulnerable conditions of the labourers stuck with poverty, disease and malnutrition. (Detailed News is appened towards the end along its link) They are starving. The region is seeing an exodus to cities like Delhi, Bombay, Chandigarh.

Is it purposive? For over a long period, People from North Bengal have started alienating from the West Bengal given the lop-sided development in the region. It is strongly resented by North Bengalis that most of the developmental projects & schemes etc. are purposefully not directed towards North Bengal. The Government and all political parties have to come above these petty politics and redress this larger and no "emotive" issue which if not handled rightly in time might lead to massive unrest & another bifurcation of West Begal!

It is high time that the State should perform its role as the protector of its citizens. It must come forward with suitable rehabilitation package for the workers of the Tea Gardens who are dying a slow death. The vicious circle in which these labourers are trapped can only be broken by sustained outside intervention from the Government. Adverse living and working conditions, coupled with monetary crunch and low nutrition level, with no proper facilities for education and health are leading to an unrest in the populace. The Government of West Bengal has to take a strong policy stand so that alternate environmentally viable industries are set up in the province with public private partnership model so successfully practiced in states like Gujrat, Haryana etc. Otherwise, looking at TATA's recent experience in West Bengal, no industrial house would come forward. They are so scared of the "strike" mentality and the way the politics is done on non-issues which is against the development of the region.

The State should carve the development plan for this region strategically for its strategical location. North Bengal is a narrow and weakest link to the North Eastern India. it should be developed and fortified. Union Government should take special measures to invest in people & region of North Bengal. Save India! save North Bengal!

SC Vashishth, भारत विकास ट्रस्ट
Develop India Trust, Jaigaon, Jalpaiguri, West Bengal

Detailed News:

Bengal tea gardens spell death for workers
JPG June 4, 2008 Agriculture, Health and Issues.
By Aparajita Gupta Kolkata: Many slips have developed between the cups and lips in the tea gardens located in North Bengal districts. Poverty, malnutrition and starvation deaths have become key words for defining the state of affairs in the tea gardens.
“Tea industry is bleeding and it has proved fatal for 1,800 workers during last four years,” says trade union leader Aloke Chakraborty.
According to General Secretary of the central committee of the National Union of Plantation Workers Aloke Chakraborty, 50 per cent of the 318 tea gardens in the Terai and Dooars region in the state were sick.
The condition of workers in the so-called healthy tea estates was also miserable, he added.
There are altogether 8,709 tea gardens in north Bengal spread across Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and North Dinajpur districts.
“People are dying of starvation. The effects of malnutrition have made worker communities vulnerable to anaemia, tuberculosis, anthrax and severe dysentery,” Chakraborty said.
The industry sources say the labour cost has escalated sharply in recent years, fertilisers have also registered quantum jump in prices and it was not a much profitable business now.
“It was the reason behind the tea plantation farms’ going sick and closing business,” Dhunseri Tea and Industries CMD Chandra Kumar Dhanuka said.
However, the union leaders accuse the owners of redirecting profits from the gardens into other businesses.
“Tea garden owners don’t reinvest the profit they earn from tea gardens into the same business or ancillary businesses. They take that profit and invest in some other business at some other place,” Chakravorty said.
During the past few years, several tea estate owners have abandoned their gardens abruptly without even paying the salaries and provident fund dues of the employees, he added.
The year 2006 was good for India’s tea industry as it exported 219 million kg. But the export figure plummeted in 2007 due to competition from Kenya. But a good showing by the tea industry doesn’t guarantee better times for its workers.
“On March 31, 2008, the wage agreement of the tea workers expired. It is usually done for three years. No new agreement has been chalked out yet,” the union leader said.
He added there is a high possibility that in the future when the revised wage structure is announced the workers have to sacrifice their arrears.