Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Continuous defiance of Accessibility Guidelines by Delhi's Civic Agencies bring them no harm


Dear Colleagues,
It is painful that in Delhi, the access is still a matter of advocacy, cajoling, recommendations despite a CPWD Manual of 1998, Chief Commissioner's guidelines of 2001 and National Building Code 2005. Today, most public buildings of the Government, Banks- whether public sector or private, schools - both private and public,  post offices, Pension offices, Dispensaries, ATMs, Bus stations, Pedestrian pathways, intersections,  markets, cinema halls, para transit vehicles, continue to remain inaccessible for persons with disabilities in clear breach of the legal mandate! 

Reason... no time frame in the law and no penalty for not ensuring accessibility and on top of it the tags like "within the limits of their economic capacity" that are found in the Disabilities Act of 1995 which otherwise can not be used given the huge sums lying with the authorities for the purpose.


All flyovers that have been created or are being created in the name of providing signal free arterial roads like inner ring road (Mahatma Gandhi Marg), outer ring road, make no provision for the pedestrians to cross over to the other side more particularly those provided at Dhaula Kuan Flyover, AIIMS Flyover & Mool Chand Flyover etc. The pedestrians including those with disabilities are forced to come in conflict with the moving traffic in absence of accessible pedestrian crossovers. Government's ever  road widening spree has made roads dangerous for pedestrians and it fails to address the congestion and pollution.

Most  pedestrian underpasses, foot-over bridges make no efforts to assimilate those living with reduced  mobility. Wherever, some relief is provided in terms of accessibility  it is usurped by parking mafia, encroachments and a bad civic sense. Is this the city or community do we want?


What we need today is deadlines and strict enforcement. Failures in achieving the deadline must meet a financial penalty on the responsible officials/ department. The guidelines on the Barrier Free Environment must be implemented by all departments and especially the civic agencies under whose domain the most public infrastructure is.


Our Social Welfare Minister has made an effort through her letter to all the departments of Delhi Government to ensure that guidelines are implemented properly but I see even here there is no deadline. The advisories don't work in the political system unless there is accountability for the continued defiance. 


It is the time that we no longer state "problems faced by persons with disabilities" as  reasons for providing accessibility. This must become a part of DNA of the Civil Agencies to plan and execute projects that are based on universal design. No more benefits in percentages that often seem to work counter productive. It has to be borne in mind that an accessible environment is beneficial and friendly to every body hence this is a requirement for every one and not just the disabled.


Here is the coverage from Times of India today: Follow Advisory for Disabled: Walia



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