Disabled-friendly infrastructure for public places getting cold shoulder
After a report titled ‘Going down city subways uphill task for disabled’ was published in this newspaper on the 17th of this month, the Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities claims that he has been pushing for change for a long time, but nothing has been done. Bajirao Jadhav alleged that despite repeated follow-ups by him with concerned officials at government offices, including the Municipal Corporation, little or nothing has been done with regard to budgetary allotment towards creation of disabled-friendly infrastructure.
“Out of the total budget of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) three per cent should be spent on the creation of facilities for disabled persons. Despite follow-ups, no political leader or bureaucrat has initiated the process of creating any such disabled-friendly infrastructure,” Jadhav said.
Jadhav is responsible for ensuring rights for disabled persons under the department of social welfare. This department has the right to take ‘sue motto cognizance’ against any government organisation or local body for not following guideline issued for the disabled by the centre.
“We have the right to take seek action against any government body for not following the guidelines. The centre issued notification seven of eight months ago, which states that we should not take strict action at the initial stage,” Jadhav said.
He added that awareness should be created among the bureaucrats through direct communication or a different medium.
“We held a meeting of all municipal corporations of the state and asked for disabled-friendly modifications to be made in these offices, civil hospitals and other infrastructure,” Jadhav said. After the meeting, Navi Mumbai and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) have taken the initiative further by establishing a ‘Disable Guidance Cell’, which is the first of its kind in the state.
Jadhav said that unawareness about disability is the root cause of the issue and continues to be a major drawback. “Nobody is ready to create disabled-friendly infrastructure or make modifications to existing public places. They [concerned officials] have assumed that people disabilities are not going to use any infrastructure. I have sent letter to the District Collector of Pune three times demanding for changes to be made at the Collectorate Office, but have not received any response,” Jadhav said.