Asia-Pacific Sep 20, 2016
GUWAHATI, INDIA: The Central government has launched Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) as a nationwide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities. But the effectiveness of the campaign is found to be missing in Assam, especially in institutions of higher education and in some government organisations.
In 1995, Scheme for Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act was passed to safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities in the country. Under this Act, measures should be undertaken to eliminate obstacles and barriers to indoor and outdoor facilities including schools, medical facilities and workplaces. These would include not only buildings, but also footpaths, curb cuts and obstacles that block the flow of pedestrian traffic.
An accessible government building is one, where persons with disabilities face no barrier in entering it and in using all the facilities therein. This covers the built environment – services, steps and ramps, corridors, entry gates, emergency exits, parking – as well as indoor and outdoor facilities including lighting, signages, alarm systems and toilets.
In Assam including its capital city Guwahati, facilities for smooth accessibility for persons with disabilities, mainly in higher educational institutions, are found to be missing.
The State Social Welfare department, which monitors the implementation of the Accessible India Campaign, has completed a survey for installing all facilities for persons with disabilities in the 25 government organizations, but is yet to start installing facilities like ramp, lift, drinking water, etc. Sources at the department concerned said recommendations based on the survey have been sent to the Central government.
Interestingly, the office of the Directorate of Social Welfare itself doesn’t have facilities like ramp, lift, etc., which help smooth movement of physically challenged persons in the office. Besides the office of the Directorate of Social Welfare, survey of Assam Secretariat, Directorate of Technical Education, Directorate of Higher Education, Directorate of Elementary Education, Assam Public Service Commission, Assam Administrative Staff College, Gauhati University, Gauhati High Court and 16 other government offices was also conducted on the same issue. As per 2011 Census, there are 4,80,065 persons with disabilities in the State.