[AI] "The disabled cannot be denied air passage"
rajeshasudani at rbi.org.in
Thu Aug 16 01:48:06 EDT 2007
"The disabled cannot be denied air passage"
DGCA lays down requirements
CHENNAI: The Office of the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued new civil aviation requirements for disabled passengers that are scheduled
to come into effect from Wednesday.
According to the new requirements, "no airline shall refuse to carry physically challenged or incapacitated persons or persons with disabilities," as long
as they "do not pose a threat" to the safety of other passengers or the evacuation procedure for the aircraft.
Airlines will also not be permitted to limit the "number or types" of disabled passengers on a particular flight, except "where required for operational
reasons." The procedure for limiting disabled passengers will also be documented. Airlines will now also have to run "sensitisation and developing awareness"
training programmes for staff.
Calls from rights groups
There have been increasing calls from rights groups for clearer guidelines on the transportation requirements of disabled passengers following the prevention
of Rajeev Rajan - a cerebral palsy patient and activist with Vidyasagar, a non-governmental organisation for the disabled - from boarding an Air Sahara
flight in Chennai on June 18 for failing to produce a medical certificate.
In an effort to clarify aviation requirements for disabled passengers, the DGCA issued a draft on July 25 on its website (http://dgca.nic.in), specifying
the new guidelines for airlines and "inviting comments" on the new recommendations. The DGCA said the new recommendations were to come into effect on August
Dhanasekharan, a representative of Vidyasagar, told The Hindu that the August 15 deadline did not give disabled rights groups enough time to respond to
the recommendations. "We were shocked to discover that the deadline was to day [August 15]," Mr. Dhanasekharan said. "By just putting it on the DGCA website,
how can they expect all of us to be aware of it?"
Vidyasagar has written to the DGCA asking it to extend the deadline for implementing the new requirements. "Before they put the requirements into effect,
the DGCA has to have a consultation with disabled groups as after all we are the stake-holders," Mr. Dhanasekharan said. "They clearly seem to not want
any suggestions from us."
Mr. Dhanasekharan alleged the new requirements were "ambiguous." "They have used the word 'incapacitated' to define the disabled," he said. "What do they
mean by incapacitated? And what is 'severe' disability? All this needs to be clarified with the stake-holders before they are implemented."
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