Mumbai's H-West ward, which includes western parts of Bandra, Khar and Santacruz, may soon become more disabled-friendly. Nearly a dozen key public places, including hospitals, colleges, parks, shopping malls, and government and private offices, will be audited for their access to the physically challenged.
Following the audit, help will be extended by experts to make the places more accessible to the disabled.
Citizens’ group H-West Federation had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture and Environmental Studies (KRVIAES) in September. The group has compiled a list of open spaces and buildings to be audited by the college, starting next week. “The list includes the three railway stations and major bus stops, as well as public toilets,” said Naresh Karmalker, trustee of the H-West Federation.
Mamta Patwardhan, assistant professor at the college and project head, said the entire process, including the submission of a detailed report to the Federation, would take about a month. “The entrances, the corridors and the general infrastructure of the buildings will be surveyed not only for the disabled, but also pregnant women, children and senior citizens,” she said, adding that the report will detail suggestions to improve them by building ramps and railings, change the flooring which has markers and putting audio and video signs wherever necessary.
Neenu Kewlani, member of non-profit Able Disabled All People Together (ADAPT), a partner in the project, said the audit will check for guidelines as detailed in the Handbook on Barrier-free and Accessibility by the Central Public Works Department.
According to the 2011 census, the population of disabled people in the suburbs was a little over 98,000. Karmalker however, said the figure is highly conservative. The project has drawn inspiration was Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, which has a rare reputation of being a disabled friendly city, Karmalker added.
Continuing its tradition of three years, the H-West Federation will conduct a marathon, MustRun, on December 14, with a special 1-km run for the physically challenged
The marathon will stretch from Bandra to Santacruz, and the organisers are expecting participation from more than 5,000 people.