Para-athlete who slept on train floor to get top NCPEDP-MUDA award

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Mumbai, Aug 9 (IANS) Acclaimed para-athlete Suvarna Raj — who made headlines in June after she was forced to sleep on the floor of a long-distance train — has been selected for the prestigious NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award for 2017, an official said here on Wednesday.

Suvarna, 34, hailing from Nagpur and settled in New Delhi after marriage, is an internationally renowned table-tennis player though she was afflicted by polio when she was only two years old.

In June, while travelling on the Nagpur-Nizamuddin Garib Rath, she was compelled to sleep on the floor after the railways and co-passengers refused to give her a lower berth in exchange for the upper berth allotted to her.

Shortly after the incident created a nationwide furore and embarrassment for the railways, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on June 11 ordered an inquiry into the treatment meted out to her.

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Ironically, Prabhu will hand over the NCPEDP-MUDA honours to Suvarna and other winners from all over the country at a function in New Delhi on August 14.

Globally known disabled rights activist and international Chairman of Disabled Peoples’ International, Javed Abidi is the head of NCPEDP — the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People in the country.

“Suvarna is a passionate supporter of improved accessibility for disabled persons and has done a lot of advocacy to make public places and buildings accessible for all,” Abidi commented.

Besides filing RTIs and cases against central and state disability commissioners, Suvarna — who is an Access Auditor for Accessible India Campaign — has audited 139 buildings around the country on their accessibility and her report is pending implementation, he said.

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Besides Suvarna from Delhi in the individuals category, the other recipients of the 8th NCPEDP-MUDA 2017 are Aqil Chinoy of Mumbai (Maharashtra); Dr Homiyar Mobedji of Ahmedabad (Gujarat); Vivek Mehta of Panchkula (Haryana); Hemang Mistry of Valsad (Gujarat); Parikipandla Narahari, an IAS officer and Collector of Indore (Madhya Pradesh); Dr Ramesh C. Gaur, university librarian of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; and Siddhant C. Shah of Mumbai.

In the category of corporates, organisations and government, the awardees are GingerMind Technologies, Bangalore (Karnataka); Hear2Read, a Text To Speech multilingual software; Intuit India of Bengaluru; UMOJA, Mumbai, which is India’s first travel portal specifically for disabled persons, enabling them to travel anywhere with ease and confidence in India and other parts of the world.

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