March 28, 2019
In a first, Pune airport is all set to introduce an exclusive waiting bay for
disabled and elderly passengers outside the airport. A special pick up zone
will be earmarked where passengers can wait for their private vehicles or
cabs to pick them up from the airport. That way, they do not have to
negotiate the traffic to get out of the airport.
Disabled flyers from the city believe this is a great initiative, but there
is some criticism as the airport is disabled-friendly. Passengers have to pay
Rs 390 to enter the airport with their vehicles. If they spend more than
three minutes inside the airport, this amount will not be refunded. The same
is applicable to passengers on wheelchairs as well. Pune airport officials
have not exempted disabled passengers from paying this amount.
Besides, the construction work that is currently going on inside the airport
premises is already causing a lot of inconvenience to passengers. That is why
there is an urgent demand for exclusive features for disabled people inside
Javed Choudhari, a para basketball player from Pune travels
regularly by air for champonpionhips and takes his vehicle to the airport
when he has to fly out.
I usually travel to Pune airport in my two-wheeler. Since I stay far from
the airport, I have no option but to take my own vehicle. Unfortunately,
they do not provide entry for two- wheelers inside the airport. So I have
to park my vehicle in the entrance gate and figure out a way to get inside
the airport. It is high time they provide exemptions for disabled people.
Inside the airport, some airlines are disabled-friendly, others are not.
There are more than one crore wheelchair users in India. Airport officials
must realize that and provide facilities for disabled people as well.
–Javed Choudhari, Para Basketball Player
There are still many factors that need to be covered to make it
disabled-friendly. They can start off by introducing battery operated
vehicles to ensure easy mobility of disabled and elderly passengers. There
must be exclusive passages for disabled people so that they do not have to
move in between heavy crowd and traffic inside the airport. Most of the
disabled people, mainly wheelchair users, are usually accompanied by someone.
But for those who travel alone, moving around independently inside the
airport is still a hassle. Most importantly, disabled people raise demand for
exempting them from charging their vehicles a heavy price for entering and
exiting the airport.
“Accessibility is a crucial issue in India. Hence, this new move by Pune
airport is a welcome move indeed. Recently, a 60-year-old disabled person was
denied a wheelchair at the Mumbai airport. They said they can provide a
wheelchair upon request, but have to pay Rs 1,200 as fee. She had to figure
out something on her own. This is not an isolated incident. It can happen
anywhere, even in Pune airport which I frequently use. I appreciate this
effort by Pune airport to introduce exclusive pick up zones for disabled
people. But there is so much more to be done”, says Diksha
Dinde, a wheelchair user from Pune.
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