[AI] "The disabled cannot be denied air passage"

Subramani L lsubramani at deccanherald.co.in
Thu Aug 16 02:53:05 EDT 2007

Pasting below a related message I received from our friend Mahesh of CBR forum in Bangalore:

15th Aug 2007

Dear Friends,


I would like to bring to you kind notice that I was alerted today by Rajiv, Disability Legislation Unit, South,  about Directorate General of Civil Aviation,
Govt. of India seeking Comments for its "Draft Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) Section 3 Series 'M' Part I - Carriage of Physically Challenged Passengers
by Air ".

(Click on this following link to view the policy

Hold your breath, your comments has to reach DGCA by the 15th of Aug (that is today!!!) by email to
rpsahi at dgca.nic.in
or by post to "Shri R. P. Sahi, Joint Director General, Office of the Director General of Civil Aviation, Opp. Safdarjung Airport, Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi
- 110 003

>From the DGCA website
it is not clear when they have posted this policy, but the policy is dated 27th Jul 2007. This means that DGCA is expecting the comments within 15 days
on the most important policy that will FOREVER affect the way persons with disabilities travel by Air across. This is TOTALLY UNFAIR!

What has DGCA done to seek the comments from persons with disabilities from across the country? Posting the draft policy on their website for a period of
15days and expecting comments is the right way.

We therefore appeal to each one of you to mail DGCA at the address given above and demand for the following:
List of 2 items
1. DGCA should hold hearing/ consultations with Persons with Disabilities from across the country before finalizing the Draft
2. DGCA should follow appropriate procedures/ timeframe before finalizing the policy - a policy that 'Protects and Promotes' the Rights of Persons with
list end

Based on cursory reading, the following are some of my observations:

List of 5 items
1. The draft DGCA policy does not acknowledge that persons with disabilities has the same Right to travel by Air like any other passengers - instead the
draft reads "Carriage of Physically Challenged Passengers"
2. The policy has a lot of derogatory statements - Example - "obvious abnormal physical or mental conditions observed and reported by airline personnel
or industry-associated persons" - what is the meaning of "abnormal"?
3. There is a lot of ambiguity in the use of terminology - Example - How can "Physically Challenged Passenger means a passenger with physical or mental
disability or incapacitation; or with a medical condition which requires individual attention or assistance" - This definition is not in any way connected
with the definition of 'Disability' that has been used in the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Act, 1995
4. The policy in its present form can be used to the airline to deny persons with disabilities from traveling by air independently. Section 4.3 of the policy
says "that a person with severe mobility, hearing and vision impairment should be accompanied by an escort who will be responsible for enplaning and deplaning"
This goes against the spirit of the PWD Act and is in violation of the "Rights of Persons with Disabilities to travel independently and make independent
5. At present all passengers (disabled or not) who us the assistance at the airport are seated on a chair with wheels that makes it impossible for persons
to propel independently - so all of them are severely disabled by design. What are the basis/ criteria to judge persons with 'severe' disability - who
list end


-----Original Message-----
From: accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in [mailto:accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in] On Behalf Of Rajesh Asudani
Sent: Thursday, August 16, 2007 11:18 AM
To: accessindia at accessindia.org.in
Subject: [AI] "The disabled cannot be denied air passage"

"The disabled cannot be denied air passage" 

Ananth Krishnan 

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?"

"Extend deadline" 

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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