Tarlochan Singh Bhatia, 47, and thousands like him can smile again. The Ministry of Railways has relented, and more than 10,000 disabled people who were asked to vacate the telephone booths they were running on railway stations across the country can stay on, at least for two more years.
In April this year, these people were asked to vacate the phone booths they had been running for years. On April 7, 2007, HT reported the plight of people like Bhatia and the ministry’s decision to scrap the policy of rehabilitating the disabled. “The day after the report, we were called by Railway Board officials and they listened to our plight. Now, this extension has come as a big boost to us,” a visibly relieved Bhatia said.
On April 9, the Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities took suo motu notice of the HT report and issued a show cause notice to the ministry and stayed their eviction. The ministry has now taken a fresh policy decision and the booths will stay. “The contracts have been extended up to October 27, 2009,” Sunita Singh, Deputy Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities told HT.
The ministry has written to the Commissioner’s office stating “the matter has been reviewed further” after which a policy decision to continue the scheme was taken. The booths were allotted under a central scheme to rehabilitate the disabled in 1981, the International Year of the Disabled. But, last year the ministry said the scheme had been scrapped after a policy decision.