BHUBANESWAR: Promoting accessibility for all, State Government has directed the civic authorities to incorporate barrier-free facilities in all the public buildings on a priority basis.
Public buildings like toilets, community centres, Kalyan Mandaps, night shelters and livelihood centres all come under the ambit of the directive issued by the Housing and Urban Development (H&UD) Department recently. The barrier-free features include ramps, lifts that can accommodate wheelchairs and low seated accessible toilets.
Municipalities and urban local bodies (ULBs) have been instructed to include accessibility features in the design of the buildings and make necessary additions to the existing buildings bereft of these facilities. The directive was issued after the H&UD Department received complaints that persons with disability (PWDs) were finding it difficult to access public utility buildings.
Currently, none of the buildings under the jurisdiction of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) are barrier-free, including its office near Kalpana Square. Few operational public toilets, operated by Sulabh International, Kalyan Mandaps and the community centres lack basic accessibility features like ramps.
Officials statistics available on accessibility levels of Government buildings are based on a survey conducted about 10 years back.
Assistant Director of State Vocational Rehabilitation Centre (VRC) for Handicapped RK Sharma said such surveys should be conducted by the State Government on a regular basis so that policies for PWDs can be formulated accordingly. Four years back, State VRC for Handicapped had undertaken a survey of the State Secretariat, State Museum, Capital Hospital, Rabindra Mandap, School for Blind and Deaf and Bhanja Kala Mandap. Out of all the buildings surveyed, Rabindra Mandap has been modified to include majority of the accessibility features. Sharma stressed that only construction of ramps was not enough to make a building barrier-free and that much more needs to be done. BMC will begin construction of about 28 public and community toilets in the city soon. BMC officials said all the toilets, which will be constructed on PPP mode, have been proposed to be barrier-free, as per the original agreement.