Nagpur/New Delhi: Suvarna Raj, an international para athlete and social worker, who was denied lower berth seat in Nagpur-Delhi Garib Rath Express despite being disabled and had to sleep on the floor of the train, is being honoured with NCPEDP’s Mphasis Universal Design Award. The Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will present the award on August 14.
Wheelchair-bound Raj was not provided a lower berth due to which she had to sleep on the floor of the train. She had earlier told ANI, “I want to meet Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and tell him about the problems we have to face while travelling in trains. Disabled people suffer a lot in trains.”
The railway officials had said the lower berth seats were not available, despite Raj specifically mentioning that she was disabled while booking the tickets. Raj is 90 per cent disabled due to polio and was able to move through a wheelchair by surgeries. In 2014, she received the National Role Model Award by former President Pranab Mukherjee. Javed Abidi, director of NCPEDP and founder of the Disability Rights Group had come up with the idea of awarding Raj this time.
“Suvarna is a passionate supporter of improved accessibility for persons with disabilities and has done a lot of advocacy to make public buildings and places accessible for all. Efforts range from filing of RTIs and cases in the offices of the Central and State Disability Commissioners. As an Access Auditor for the Accessible India Campaign, she has audited 139 buildings across the country on their accessibility and her report now awaits implementation.” Others who have received the Mphasis Universal Design Award include Aqil Chinoy of Yuva Association of the Deaf, disability expert Dr Homiyar Mobedji and the founder of DeafEasy, Vivek Mehta.