New Delhi(PTI): In a first of its kind exercise, the Centre has asked the civil society to identify 100 public buildings ‘unfriendly’ for the differently abled in seven major cities for upgrading them into ‘barrier-free’ accessible premises for them.
The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities has invited suggestions from individuals, NGOs, associations and civic bodies about government buildings that are frequented by Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) but lack facilities for them in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Gurgaon, Guwahati, Jaipur and Mumbai.
The department, functioning under the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, would provide assistance for making such buildings ‘fully accessible premises’ by July next year.
Based on the suggestions, the department would short-list a total of 100 public buildings in the first phase. These structures will be audited by panels comprising differently abled people.
“We are forming audit panels comprising differently abled persons to examine facilities that should be provided in the identified public buildings. The process for selecting members for the panels has started,” Joint Secretary in the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Awanish Kumar Awasthi said.
“Our ministry would coordinate with other central ministries for the public buildings belonging to the Union government. For state government buildings, we would approach the social welfare departments of the respective states and provide necessary assistance for the purpose,” he added.
According to official sources, the panel would audit the identified buildings on various parameters including ramps, lifts, toilets, tactile paving and visual signage. Facilities that are absent causing problems for differently abled people would be provided with financial aid from the department.
The ministry has proposed to make 50 per cent of all government buildings in the National Capital and state capitals fully accessible by July 2019.
The initiative is part of the government’s “Accessible India Campaign” to enable the differently abled live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society. The campaign aims at enhancing the accessibility of built environment, transport system and information and communication eco-system.
The campaign would be initially implemented on a pilot basis in seven states–Delhi, Assam, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
It seeks to make government buildings barrier free for PwDs from entrance to exit. This covers the ‘environment’ in buildings such as steps, ramps, corridors, entry gates, emergency exits, toilets, as also lighting, signages and alarm systems.