High Court in India asks architects body to contact survey of disability access of all government buildings

Asia-Pacific, March 22 2011

Nagpur, Mar 22: In a ray of hope for disabled and senior citizens, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court has asked the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) to conduct a survey of all the government/semi-government buildings in the city on facilities being offered. The IIA has been told to take the help ofNagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) town planning officer and submit the report within four months.

A division bench comprising justices Dilip Sinha and Ashok Bhangale also directed the authorities to install facilities in the Vasantrao Deshpande Hall within a stipulated time. The bench was hearing a plea filed by a city-based retired disabled scientist PN Andhare through his counsel Trupti Udeshi who too is disabled people.

The petitioner, who is 80% disabled, had filed the PIL through an NGO Indradhanu praying for compliance of Maharashtra government resolution of 2005 which mandated facilities for disabled people. The NGO’s secretary Prakash Sohoni is another petitioner.

According to the duo, local authorities including the NMC should make efforts to implement by-laws, guidelines and measures to ensure a barrier-free built environment and non-discrimination in transport for disabled people and senior citizens. Even banks and NMC have failed to set up ramps or a guide rail.

Pointing out several lacunae on the roads and footpaths, the petitioners claimed that they were laid in such a way that it becomes difficult for both the disabled and elderly to move, and the encroachment on all the footpaths provides obstacles in their movement.

They contended that despite Lokayukta’s recommendations, the master transportation plan for the city has no provisions for disabled and there is no monitoring system by which the implementation of the Persons for Disabilities Act can be verified. Additionally, there is no grievance redressal mechanism by which these issues can be resolved. Citing RTI query, the petitioners claimed that NMC could not cite even a single government building where facilities are provided for disabled people.

During the last hearing, the court had directed the state government to ensure all facilities for disabled people including railings, ramps and handles in all government, semi-government buildings and those belong to statutory public bodies. The court wanted to know how many parking places in the city provide reserve parking for disabled people as per government resolution of April 5, 2005. The issue of providing special toilets for such persons in the government buildings was also raised by the court.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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