Asia-Pacific Feb 4, 2015
CHENNAI, INDIA: Over 87 per cent of the buildings in the city, where the public gathers in large numbers, continue to have barriers to access. Of this, 250 are Chennai Corporation buildings.
This has been indicated by the Corporation’s own assessment of accessible buildings in the city.
It is clear that the civic body has failed to meet the objectives of the Persons with Disabilities Act of 1996, and, having failed to offer a barrier-free environment, is now scrambling to regulate large buildings.
The Corporation has screened 7,860 large commercial buildings, including malls, theaters, marriage halls and showrooms. Only 1,038 of these buildings have ramps and other accessible features in accordance with the National Building Code of India, 2005.
Representatives of groups of persons with disabilities stressed the need for implementing accessible measures towards ensuring “non-discrimination in transport on the roads and the built environment.” Of Chapter VII of the Persons with Disabilities Act, sections 44 to 46 instruct the government and local authorities on installing auditory signals for persons with vision disabilities, kerbs and slopes on pavements for wheelchair-users, and warning signals at appropriate places.
“Most of the ATMs in the city do not have properly-designed ramps. The poorly-designed ramps in Pitty Thyagarar Arangam are an example of the existing conditions. Toilets in the city are not accessible either,” said P. Simmachandran, State general secretary, Federation of Tamil Nadu Differently Abled Associations.
“Persons with disabilities are unable to visit malls, large textile showrooms and railway stations. Authorities giving planning approval do not regulate the buildings. During our recent visit to Korea, we were able to visit highrise buildings and railway stations in wheelchairs,” he added.
Corporation officials said the civic body is planning to pull up its socks and make sure its buildings have easy access for all, and cancel the trade licence for malls, theaters, hotels, and marriage halls that violate the provisions of the Act.