Showing posts with label Accessible Public Buildings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Accessible Public Buildings. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

No funds for new projects that don't include accessibility features in buildings - says Finance Minstry

Dear Colleagues,

In a welcome initiative, the Finance Ministry has, in compliance with Section 40 & 44 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, which are reproduced below,  made it mandatory for all new projects to include accessibility features in the costing of the total project cost when proposals are sent for expenditure finance committee approvals. No funds will be release for projects that don't include accessibility components. 

"40. Accessibility.—The Central Government shall, in consultation with the Chief Commissioner, formulate rules for persons with disabilities laying down the standards of accessibility for the physical environment, transportation, information and communications, including appropriate technologies and systems, and other facilities and services provided to the public in urban and rural areas.

44. Mandatory observance of accessibility norms.—(1) No establishment shall be granted permission to build any structure if the building plan does not adhere to the rules formulated by the Central Government under section 40.
(2) No establishment shall be issued a certificate of completion or allowed to take occupation of a building unless it has adhered to the rules formulated by the Central Government"

The department of expenditure has directed all ministries to include “special measures proposed to meet needs of persons with disabilities, including accessibility requirements under the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act” in new construction projects.  The measures would be included in all inter-ministerial consultation notes and in the final expenditure finance committee (EFC) note. In the format of EFC notes for appraisal of schemes, the department of expenditure amended its earlier guidelines to include an additional para. 

This comes into immediate effect. The ministries/ departments are requested to accordingly circulate EFC memos for inter-ministerial consultations after incorporating measures to meet needs of persons with disabilities,” the amended guideline directed. 

The department of empowerment of persons with disabilities (DEPwD) has been pushing for this inclusion for some time. Speaking to ET, DEPwD joint secretary Dolly Chakraborty said, “Any new construction project – like a flyover where pedestrian crossings are being planned or overbridges or a new government building – would now have in-built accessibility features. Harmonised guidelines have been issued to have common features. Now it would be mandatory to include these within the planning stage.” .. This, Chakraborty said, would help to make physical environment more accessible as retrofitting later has always been a financial and design challenge. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Vigyan Bhawan, AIIMS, Feroz Shah Kotla… can’t go anywhere

Bindu Shajan Perappadan,  February 27, 2017 21:42 IST

Two key buildings in Delhi — Vigyan Bhawan and Social Welfare Department (GNCTD) — are inaccessible to people with disabilities.Ironically, the President presents national awards to differently-abled  persons at Vigyan Bhawan and the Social Welfare Department is a two-storey building meant for their welfare, says  physician and disability rights activist Satendra Singh, summing up the state of inclusion of accessibility for the differently-abled in the Capital.Speaking about his own “struggle”, Dr. Singh, who has 70% orthopaedic disability, says: “I have to travel 4 km from GTB Hospital (his office) to Suryanagar to use the post office as the one on the hospital campus is on the first floor and there is no lift. I have to file a case in Disability Court against my Medical Director to make the post office and bank accessible.”The lack of access to essential services remains a source of discrimination and lost opportunities for the disabled, says the doctor.The list of inaccessible buildings in the Capital includes premier hospitals as well.“

Despite my petition, AIIMS Delhi remains inaccessible to people with disabilities. The New Delhi railway station doesn’t have a lift connecting to the platforms and escalators are not disabled-friendly. Though there are low-floor buses, have you ever seen a wheelchair-user travelling in them,’’ he asks. Most irritating, he says, is the fact that entertainment is beyond the reach of the disabled. “Neither cinema halls nor Firoz Shah Kotla is accessible,’’ he says. 

Inaccessibility is not restricted to wheelchair-users only, says disability rights lawyer and access consultant Subhash Chandra Vashishth. According to him, to realise the mandate of inclusive and accessible public infrastructure, all public spaces need to be conceived, designed and developed keeping diversity of users in mind.

Dr. G.N. Karna, a research officer and honorary president of the Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies, says there is a need to improve the monitoring of implementation of various policies, including the yet-to-be notified Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016.

Source: The Hindu 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Accessible India Campaign / सुगम्य भारत अभियान

Following Information was given by the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on 23 Dec 2014:

Accessible India Campaign (सुगम्य भारतअभियान ) is the nationwide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for all citizens including Persons with Disabilities, to be able to gain access and live independently. The Accessible India Campaign comprises of the following key components:-

(i) Create Mass Awareness
(ii) Capacity Building
(iii) Interventions (Technology solutions, Legal framework, Resource generation)
(iv) Leverage corporate sector efforts including CSR resources.
(v) Leadership endorsements

Section 44, 45 and 46 of Persons with Disabilities (PwD) Act, 1995 deals with non-discrimination in transport, non-discrimination on the road and non-discrimination in the built environment, respectively. All the Establishments, appropriate Governments and the local authorities are mandated by these provisions of the PwD Act to take, within the limits of their economic capacity, measures for providing easy accessibility for persons with disabilities in a non-discriminatory manner.

The Ministry as well as the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) from time to time request the State Govts./UT Administrations for providing barrier free access to public places by constructing ramps, lifts and railings.

Vide letter dated 24.01.2012, Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) had written to all the Chief Secretaries of the States/UT Administrations among other things to take concrete and time bound steps to enforce accessibility standards and guidelines.

CCPD also takes up with the concerned State Govts./authorities as and when non-availability of facilities for access to public places for persons with disabilities comes to their notice.

The Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities of the concerned States are also requested to follow up with their respective State Govts./UT Administrations.

A letter dated 8.07.2014 has also been sent from Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment to the Chief Ministers of all States requesting them to issue suitable directions to all concerned for taking appropriate measures in concrete and time-bound manner for incorporation of barrier free access to all public buildings and transportation. They have also been requested that similar provisions may be made in local municipal/building bye-laws.

Moreover, under the Scheme for Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 (SIPDA), Ministry provides Grants-in-aids to all States/UTs to provide barrier free environment in important Government buildings (State Secretariat, other important State level offices, Collectorates, State University Buildings/ Campuses, Medical Colleges and Main Hospitals at Divisional Headquarters, other important Government buildings), for Persons with Disabilities as per Section 46 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation of Rights) Act, 1995 (PwD Act). This includes provision for ramps, rails, lifts, adaptation of toilets for wheelchair users, brail signage and auditory signals, tactile flooring, etc.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An app to tell you which public places are accessible

Monday, February 17, 2014 - 06:00 IST | Agency: DNA

Want to know if a restaurant, mall, cinema or a public promenade is friendly for the differently abled? Or whether the lifts in a public building can be used seamlessly by those confined to a wheelchair?

Help may soon be at hand with the state information technology (IT) department planning to develop an app and a linked website which will enable the physically challenged to record their feedback about whether facilities and public spaces are disabled friendly.

Rajesh Aggarwal, principal secretary, IT, told dna that they were working on developing an app to indicate disabled-friendly areas and facilities. "Users will be actually keying in the data," said Aggarwal, adding that this could even cover issues like whether a wheelchair could be accommodated in a cinema hall, mall, multiplex or a walkway.

This facility will also raise awareness about buildings and facilities which are disabled friendly and also compel those which are not suitable for the physically handicapped to re-engineer themselves accordingly to fit the requirements.

The IT department plans to launch the app on Android platforms to be accessed by smart phone users while a corresponding website will be developed for those who do not use smartphones. Aggarwal said they would also request Microsoft to help get the app on the Windows platform.

Welcoming the idea, HK Savla, managing trustee, Jeevan Jyot Cancer Relief and Care Trust, which works for cancer patients and the disabled, said this initiative would raise awareness about the need to make public spaces more disabled friendly. He pointed out that only a few buildings had ramps for the disabled or even toilets to meet their requirements. Savla also recalled an instance where a girl working in a post office was unable to take her wheelchair into the building or even to the toilet.

The department is also developing apps for MahaNews and Lokrajya and has come out with an app to enable users to view the government resolutions (GR) issued by the state government. While MahaNews is the state government's official news and information website, Lokrajya is the state government's official magazine and mouthpiece. The magazine will be available in Marathi, English and Urdu on the app.

Source: DNA India

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Inaccessibility keeps students away from Colleges in Coimbatore

Dear Colleagues,

This seems to be the condition in most Indian Institutions including the Delhi University wherein even the minimum seats reserved the students with disabilities go vacant each year. In Delhi Univeristy alone roughly close to 500 students take admissions against the 1500 reserved seats for the students with disabilities and even this number gets reduced due to drop outs who do not find accommodation or have problem of transportation. 

In the instant case in Coimbatore, it is not because the students with disabilities  are not interested in pursuing higher education that seats remain vacant, but because the institutions do not provide an environment conducive to them.

Even those who choose to pursue higher education are those with lesser percentage of disability.  Therefore, reservation of seats in higher education for the disabled is of no consequence if the physical infrastructure (of institutions/ hostels) & the transportation systems to reach institutions are not inclusive and barrier free!  Here is the news from The Hindu:

Lack of facilities keeps differently abled away from Coimbatore's educational institutions : Coimbatore


Focus on use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), to ensure differently abled lead an inclusive life, has stolen the attention from the real difficulties they face from the physical barriers. This is significant from the representations they have time and again made demanding a barrier-free environment.

While, most differently abled have easy use of audio-visual aids, equipment, computers and softwares to assist them, what remains elusive is the physical access to various places by virtue of these not being disabled-friendly. This is in terms of absence of ramps, lifts to accommodate wheel chairs, modified washrooms, etc. This becomes critical when these places are schools / colleges / universities. 

This year, only a few higher education institutions have been able to admit students under the three per cent quota for the differently abled. Out of these, only a handful of colleges have admitted students in double digits. And, this is not because those with disability are not interested in pursuing higher, but because the institutions do not provide an environment conducive to them.

Even those who choose to pursue higher education are those with lesser percentage of disability.

Persons with disability of 70 per cent and above, and others who are confined to wheel chairs do not prefer to go to colleges because the infrastructure is not suited to their condition.

Though there is an Act – The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 – to ensure equal opportunities, higher education still remains a distant dream.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has schemes to provide grants for creating facilities in colleges that are 2 (f) and 12 (B) approved, and universities, but since the institutions do not take interest in applying for these, the schemes go unused.

But the recent State Government Order Ms. No. 21 (Tamil Nadu Urban Local Bodies Rules 2013 of February 1, 2013), the implementation of which comes with a time frame of 180 days, has brought some hope. The G.O. calls for making public and multi-storeyed buildings disabled-friendly in six months.

R. Rajendran, Principal of PSG College of Arts and Science, says, “The college has used the grant from UGC under the XI Fiver Year Plan, along with its own funds, to make existing buildings disabled friendly. Work is going on in phases to put up ramps, modify washrooms, etc. Some washrooms are already in use.”

More than 90 differently abled applied here for UG admission and the college admitted nearly 40 students based on eligibility and three per cent quota.

Visually challenged, and those who are hearing and speech impaired prefer to go to institutions that are exclusive for persons like them. However, there are only special schools and not colleges to accommodate them.

Nevertheless, Nithya Ramachandran, Deputy Joint Director, Sankara College of Arts and Science, says the college admits those with hearing and speech impairment.

“Special infrastructure, aids and faculty have been arranged to cater to these students. It requires special effort to provide them with an atmosphere that is conducive to study,” she says.

On colleges constructing infrastructure suited to the differently-abled, Ms. Ramachandran says that self-financing colleges do not get any provision from any source for taking up such activities.

Though the UGC provides grants, these are restricted only to colleges that have been approved under Sections 2 (f) and 12 (B) and not those recognised under Section 2 (l), which are not declared fit to receive central assistance.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Realising the dream of Barrier Free enviornment in Public Spaces

Dear Colleagues,

Its over one and a half decade when The Persons with Disabilities (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act was passed in India with specific mandate under sections 44 and 46 that stipulated barrier-free accessibility for the disabled at public buildings. However, the sad story is that it is not in the priorities of the State Governments still to make their offices accessible. With impunity access to even social welfare sections/ pension sections/ public dealing offices continues to be through staircases rather than lifts/ ramps. In fact the entire office complex is supposed to be accessible if section 33 of the Act mandating 3% reservations in the jobs is to be respected and complied with in its true sense.

There exist guidelines from the office of Chief commissioner Disabilities titled "Plannning a Barrier Free Environment", CPWD's "Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier Freeenvironment for Disabled and Elderly Persons" and also Model Building Bye-laws  of Town and Country Planning Organization (Min. of UD) incorporated by most of the states to ensure accessibility in the public places/buildings.  The National Building Code 2005 and its earlier versions mandated accessibility and barrier free environment in the public buildings. However, the government offices especially in the States continue to defy the norms.

To facilitate easy implementation and remove bottlenecks of funding, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has been giving project based funds to make public places accessible to the states/agencies. However, the states either seem to have not shown interest in this or are little too slow on acting on the funding scheme available.

Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India which is the nodal ministry to ensure a barrier free environment had started this initiative by getting the access audits done through competent agencies for the union government buildings in Delhi and in other major cities and also the satellite towns. The next phase of implementation of the access audit reports is in progress in the Capital and several states. 

For implementation of Section 46 of the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, the State Governments have nominated an official in each district (designated as Access Officers/ Inspectors  )for bringing cases of non-compliance to the notice of the concerned authorities in addition to the office of State Commissioner- Disabilities whose mandate is to see the implementation of the said act.  It has been found that often the nominated official/Access officer has no knowledge of the barrier free environment. Often their powers/scope of duties is not properly indicated and it is either just an additional charge given to them.

The State governments- barring a few like Goa etc - have not taken sincere initiatives to ensure accessibility in their buildings and public services- which also include access to information. Most websites of the state governments and even some union ministries continue to be inaccessible for the visually impaired users and those with mental challenges. 

This calls for alternate remedies and a strict and time bound implementation of the mandate. The Chief Commissioner - Disabilities at the Centre has been very pro-active in issuing notices to the Government departments, universities, post offices and banks etc to ensure their buildings and services accessible. However, the State commissioners have been little lethargic on this front.

Suggested measures

(a) State Commissioners should on their own motion or on receipt of complaint/ information take immediate action to ensure that the flouting department provides accessibility in a time bound manner. More stakeholders should approach the State Commissioners for persons with disabilities, a list of which is available at link : STATE COMMISSIONERS-DISABILITIES. On how to write a complaint/grievance visit link: Writing a Petition for your Grievance.

(b) State Governments should be directed to provide a dedicated office of the nominated official in each district called as "Access Officers/ Access Inspectors" and provide their coordinates on the State Government Website/ District Collector's website with phone numbers, email ids, FAX etc. These access officers/inspectors should be provided sufficient staff at block level/ panchayats who should inspect the existing buildings to ensure they are accessible. Their duty should also involve giving recommendations on the building plans of the new buildings. The Access officers should either give their nod/or reject with reasons within a fixed time period. No buildings should be allowed to be built without a clearance from the access officer. 

(c) More NGOs/ user groups, stakeholders, family members should be encouraged to bring the cases of inaccessible public buildings to the notice of access officers/disability commissioners.

(d) The Access Officers/ Commissioner- Disabilities should be trained and sensitized on creation of barrier free environment. All new joinees on these posts should undergo the sensitization.

(e) If the state has not adopted the model building bye-laws, the existing guidelines by the Union Government/ Chief Commissioner - Disabilities should prevail in such cases.

With these measures, I am sure we can achieve much more than just sitting and criticizing the non-implementation of the PWD Act 1995.  

Here is one news report from Jharkhand published in The Telegraph talking about inaccessibility of the Collector's office, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand. 

Built on crippled common sense

- Collectorate degrades disability act with staircases

Visually impaired Sonali Pal (35) from Uliyan Kadma nearly fell on December 22, 2012, on the staircase of the first floor of the district collectorate while going to submit a memorandum of protest against the Delhi bus rape before East Singhbhum deputy commissioner (DC) Himani Pande

When orthopaedically challenged Deepak Kumar Srivastava (31), secretary of Jharkhand Viklang Sansthan, has to meet officials such as deputy development commissioner (DDC) Dadan Choubey in the course of his work, he climbs steep stairs using crutches to reach the first floor of the district collectorate

On an average, around 10 disabled persons who visit the East Singhbhum district collectorate office a day, know what it is like to feel like second-class citizens.
The three-storey (G+2) collectorate building in Sakchi, Jamshedpur, does not offer accessibility to the disabled.

Even though the structure came up in 2003, eight years after Persons with Disabilities (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act with sections 44 and 46 that stipulated barrier-free accessibility for the disabled at public buildings, staircases and not ramps were the only links between floors.

According to conservative estimates of a Jharkhand Viklang Manch survey, nearly six per cent of the total 22-lakh-plus population of East Singhbhum district comprises the disabled.
It appears a sizeable population of 1.32 lakh can’t access their own district collectorate without feeling humiliated and risking a fall.

Most senior bureaucrats, including DC Himani Pande, additional deputy commissioner Ganesh Prasad, additional district magistrate (law and order) Ajay Shanker, DDC Dadan Choubey, executive magistrate Sunil Kumar and others, have offices at the district collectorate.

These apart, important departments including social welfare, DRDA, welfare, district information office and nazarat deputy commissioner office are also located in the same building.

Manch president Arun Kumar Singh said they had submitted petitions to all deputy commissioners from 2006 onwards, protested twice in front of the district collectorate and written to former state commissioner (disability) Satish Chandra, but nothing happened.

“It seems our plight does not bother bureaucrats. Mounting stairs is a risk. Plus, it is a time-consuming and painful process. But there’s no way out at the district collectorate,” said Singh.

Former state commissioner (disability) Chandra — the post is vacant since December 2012 — admitted to receiving petitions from the disabled in Jamshedpur.

“I had taken up the issue of barrier-free accessibility. But nothing has been done so far,” Chandra said.

State social welfare director Krishna Prasad Dev Sahu agreed the problem was serious. “When a new commissioner (disability) is appointed, he will be entrusted with the task of ensuring that the disabled can access the district collectorate with ease,” said Sahu.

On being prodded, deputy commissioner Pande claimed they had asked the executive engineer of building construction department to prepare a blueprint for a ramp and guidelines tiles on staircases for visually challenged.

“We are planning these things. We will look into it,” she said without giving a deadline.

Source: The Telegraph