Your Space: Government and civic buildings in Pune should be inclusive - Hindustan Times

Your Space: Government and civic buildings in Pune should be inclusive

Hindustan Times, Pune | ByHT Correspondent
Jan 14, 2018 03:51 PM IST

Government buildings in the city lack basic accessible infrastructure. Is this lack of sensitivity or the problem of a mentality which still views the differently-abled with either pity or disgrace? The city awaits a change.

What is disability? Any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in a manner or within the range considered normal for human beings, resulting from impairment is termed as disability.

Twenty-four-year-old Diksha Dinde being carried down the staircase of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) main building by her mother in the absence of a ramp.(HT File Photo)
Twenty-four-year-old Diksha Dinde being carried down the staircase of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) main building by her mother in the absence of a ramp.(HT File Photo)

Disability is an important public health problem especially in developing countries like India. The problem will increase in future because of increase in the trend of non-communicable diseases and change in age structure with an increase in life expectancy.

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A national building code needs to be developed using the principles of universal design to ensure all public buildings are accessible to all persons.

There is a need for awareness around issues like removing and breaking physical barriers in the society and provision of an accessible physical environment for every member of the society.

There should be liaison between the end-users (PWD) and various professionals (politicians, engineers, lawyers, architects, physiotherapists, disability management practitioners and occupational therapists) during the development of a framework for the construction of buildings in order to make them accessible to wheelchair-users.

We need to set up a regulatory body that will have an oversight responsibility of all the public buildings constructed in the country to make sure they are wheelchair-accessible before being sanctioned or approved for final construction.

More attention should be paid in providing accessibility links during construction and renovation of public buildings, especially those of education, religious and sports or recreation buildings across the country.

A building not accessible by persons with physical disability only means that they have been excluded as far as usage of the facility is concerned. In almost all societies of the world, major obstacles continue to hamper the development of PWD, thus preventing them from exercising their rights and freedom, making it especially difficult for them to participate fully in the activities of their societies.

Prashant N Chaudhari

Facilities needed outside buildings

This is in reference to a very well-written article on ‘Is Pune an all-inclusive city? HT finds out’, published on December 25.

It is absolutely essential that all buildings people visit for availing services, such as government and municipal corporation offices and banks, have adequate facilities for safe and convenient movement of differently-abled persons.

However, providing such facilities only within the building would not suffice. It is also necessary that the facilities be provided all over the campus, from nearby parking areas and also along approach roads and footpaths to enable the differently-abled persons reach building entrance.

Prashant Inamdar

Safeguarding heritage sites

This is in reference to an article on ‘We don’t have a list of Pune heritage sites’ published on January 7, 2018.

Sometime in 1992, Mumbai-based conservation activist/expert Shyam Chainani, with his team, was invited to Pune to replicate what they did on the Bombay Heritage Conservation project through a committee. Through this initiative, they got Philips and other corporates to beautify and light up some of the heritage buildings in the city as was done in Mumbai.

I volunteered through Tata to assist them and took up residential buildings and standing structures for grading.

In the bargain, 650 buildings and structures in Pune came under critical scan to finally go through the processes.

Through this initiative I realised the value of the rich heritage of Pune city.

But, way back between 1987 and 1992, similar work was done by INTACH. The problem is with us. The passionate types exhaust resources in a mere event management or disparate activities.

They don’t collaborate with others. Means become ends. What is needed is a coordinated effort, like the Dr KG Paranjape committee, to bring out the Pune Action Plan of which I was a part.

Such high level effort must be taken on heritage and all other soft powers and value of a habitat (bigger than a city). From Balasaheb Purandhare to Pune-based designer Christopher Benninger to Deccan College to BORI, all need to learn to work together.

But, the powers must be systematically alienated like the initiative in Mumbai with frequent follow-ups.

Anant G Nadkarni

Parking policy awaits approval

Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has drafted a progressive parking policy which is pending approval of the PMC general body for over a year.

While there has been abundant expression of intentions, the Chandigarh Union Territory is the first government in the country which has taken the decisive step of coming out with a draft parking policy which has many remarkable features.

This draft policy suggests measures to manage parking demand to curb excess parking. This includes the concept of congestion pricing which will be introduced in some sectors and in high density commercial markets. The user fee will be high during morning (9.00 am to 12.00 noon) and evening (5.00 pm to 8.00 pm) peak hours. It will be mandatory for industrial/IT companies with more than 50 employees to ply staff buses.

Working Place Parking Levy (WPPL) shall be initially introduced in public institutions and later extended to private institutions as well. To encourage low-carbon travel modes, employers may provide incentives/passes to public transport users.

The policy brings in the concept of Certificate of entitlement or COE. COE will be issued through an open bid uniform price auction. This grants the legal right to register, own vehicles and use a vehicle within the city for a period of 10 years.

When demand is high, the cost of a COE would even exceed the value of the car itself. This system is probably based on the Vehicle Quota System followed in Singapore.

Under this draft policy, the number of COE will be determined on a quarterly basis keeping in mind the holding capacity of the city.To minimise parking issues in residential areas and to reduce pressure on roads, road tax shall be levied up to half the price of the second car purchased by any household.

If the price of a car is ~10 lakh and above, a road tax of up to half the price of the car shall be levied. Vehicle owners will be required to produce a certificate of availability of parking space at the time of registration for every car purchased after a specified date, under this policy.

The draft policy also suggests parking supply measures in residential areas. Community parking in each sub-sector shall be created under this policy by using neighbourhood commercial and institutional parking lots overnight, on rental basis, to be managed and run by the Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs). Green areas shall not be converted or used for parking. Vehicles registered in outstations shall be charged 50 per cent of higher parking fees. Also, a 50 per cent rebate in property tax will be made for residential houses having private parking lots within their sites.

The policy suggests that all on-street parking spaces wherever identified should be parallel to the road.

Functions, melas or gatherings areas attract huge number of cars. Hence, organisers and or industrial owners should arrange shuttle service from prominent locations and the same may be widely published in local newspapers well in time.

According to the draft policy, there are certain suggestions with respect to the pricing methodology for parking.

The base price of parking for each type of vehicle shall be determined based on space occupied by the vehicle, cost incurred in maintaining the parking space and prevailing circle rates for residential plot of land in that particular area.

According to the suggestion, parking will be priced for every half hour slots, increasing exponentially. For example, the minimum parking fee could be ~10/- for first half hour, ~25/- for 1 hour, ~81/- for two hours, etc.

While it is difficult to predict if all the above features of the policy will finally be approved by the concerned authority, this step by the Chandigarh government will be a major milestone in the journey towards regulated usage of cars in Indian cities.

The initiative deserves to be complimented and all cities should urgently formulate their own parking policy by tweaking the features of Chandigarh draft to suit local conditions.

Subhash Devare

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