Erumeli: An accident in 1998 altered the course of Biju Verghese's life, confining him to a wheelchair forever. 13 years on, Biju still battles the demons as he recollects that fateful accident. But the 38-year-old electrician from Kerala's Erumeli town didn't let despair defeat him. Instead, he picked up the pieces and toiled away hours in a thatched roof workshop to create a retrofitment kit for his car that would give him that much-needed mobility.
"One day, I saw a programme about the Air Force One on the National Geographic channel. That was the first time I saw how small levers were used to control a huge plane. I was hooked to the idea and after many unsuccessful attempts, I could make this kit using the idea," Biju said.
In 2007, the Automative Research Association of India recognised the completely hand-controlled menchanism and Biju became the first individual in India to earn the licence to alter cars. But his winning moment came when the then president Dr Abdul Kalam feted him with the 'Best Inventor of India' award. Now, he holds the licence to alter 56 models of 13 auto brands. Biju has added his special touch to 200 cars till now and his customers can't thank him enough for changing their lives.
"Disabled people are still an ignored lot in our society. I am very happy and content to do this for them and change their lives even a little bit," Biju said.
Biju's innovative retrofitment kit has not only helped people like him to be mobile but has also awakened the government. He is now busy knocking on the doors of the state government to make changes in the vehicles' act and recognize physically challenged persons so that even they can avail all legal benefits.