Even though the parliament enacted a legislation 19 years ago to create a friendly environment for the people with disabilities, the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) has so far failed to comply with the guidelines.
The central government had in 1996 put in place the Persons with Disabilities ( Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act) Act, and made it mandatory for the municipal bodies to follow the guidelines given therein. In 1998, the central public works department (CPWD) issued the guidelines.
As per the guidelines, the MC should specify basic infrastructural provision to be incorporated in new buildings to make them convenient for the differently-abled persons. Accordingly, all the local authorities must update their building codes.
Also, before giving permissions of construction, civic bodies should ensure the provision of step-less system for easy access to the buildings, lifts, adequate width of doors for easy entries of wheelchairs, and accessible toilets.
Shani Kumar, a differently-abled student of architecture in Chandigarh, said, “We face a lot of difficulty as ramps are not there at several places in the city. Though the authorities have constructed a ramp in the Sector 9 market, it is very steep and slippery.”
Nominated councillor Surinder Bahga said, “In some cities, redesign and retrofitting is done to make the existing buildings and roads friendly for the disabled. Here, the MC has not done anything of that sort, and not even planned for the future. Even when they get drawings from the chief architect for approval, the officials never bother to ensure that the provisions of the law are followed.”
When contacted, mayor Poonam Sharma said, “I am not aware of the issue but will look into the matter.”
A random check by HT reveals that the city lacks in disabled-friendly, barrier-free environment.
Of the 33 community centres under the MC, only two -Sector 8 and 16 - have ramps. The bus stops do not have any such infrastructure at all nor do the parks.