Dispur move for disabled

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  • Published 16.06.10

Guwahati, June 15: The Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority has set a June 30 deadline for hospitals, malls and commercial buildings in the city to introduce disabled-friendly facilities.

Facilities like ramps and wheelchairs will be introduced in government offices, educational institutions, bus terminuses, railway stations and even at Kamakhya temple atop Nilachal Hill in a phased manner, to be completed within this year.

Manikut Pathak, the development officer of GMDA, said a group of experts and officials has already visited various shopping malls and private hospitals to check out facilities available for physically challenged or differently-able persons.

He said not a single building has been so far was found to be equipped with the required facilities, making these places completely inaccessible for physically challenged persons.

“The GMDA has made it mandatory for the owners of commercial buildings and private hospitals to install display boards and prominently highlight the facilities and infrastructure available for physically challenged persons. It would be a tough job as the details gathered by the GMDA has revealed that not a single building in the city has such facilities. But we must go ahead since the initiative would be in adherence to various directives issued by the Supreme Court in recent years and various provisions of the Disability Act, 1995 to make public places completely accessible to physically challenged persons,” Pathak said.

The new building bylaws formulated by the GMDA clearly mentioned that the commercial buildings must be constructed in a disabled- friendly manner.

The disability law unit (Northeast) of Shishu Sarothi, an NGO, while welcoming the initiative, said it would adopt a wait-and-watch policy to see the effectiveness of the GMDA’s step.

“Introduction of ramp and wheelchair will not be enough. According to the Disability Act, 1995, several other facilities, like specially designed elevators with auditory signal system to make it easy to identify floors for visually impaired, are a must at shopping malls, private hospitals and other government offices. There must be guide maps at shopping malls, hospitals and railway stations for those with hearing impairment,” Anju Talukdar, the project co-ordinator of the NGO, said.

In April last year, the disability law unit (Northeast) of Shishu Sarothi, an NGO, decided to file a case in Gauhati High Court against the chief electoral officer of Assam and deputy commissioners for their failure to make polling booths disabled-friendly during the Lok Sabha polls.