CHENNAI: After the Supreme Court rap, the State government is now looking at making 50 buildings differently-abled friendly.
A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan passed a slew of directives, including that all government buildings providing any service to the public be made fully accessible to persons with disabilities by June 2019 as per The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016. It is learnt that besides making the buildings easily accessible for the physically challenged, the State government is looking at making buses with such facility for them.
This comes after Supreme Court bench referred to the 2016 Act and said it provided for comprehensive accessibility to differently-abled persons in all modes of transport. As such, it becomes the duty of the Union, States as well as union territories to ensure that all government buses are differently-abled friendly in accordance with the harmonised guidelines, the court has observed.
It is also learnt that during a high-level meeting held last month, officials planned that all upcoming new government buildings could be designed for easy access for the physically challenged. Also, the Public Works Department which will be working on making the 50 government buildings differently-abled friendly with the help of Welfare of Differently-abled Persons department.
Vaishnavi, a member of Disability Rights Alliance, said Public Works Department should do an access audit before making a change. She said in the union government buildings, the basics are in place but the State is yet to catch up with regard to ramps in ground floor. “They should ensure the floor is really flat and people with wheel chairs can use the bathroom,” she said.
Interestingly, the State is planning to amend development control regulations to implement ‘Harmonised Guidelines and Space Standards for Barrier Free Built Environment for Differently-Abled persons’. This would mean that any building that is not physically challenged -friendly will not get approvals.
Smitha Sadasivan, also a member of Disability Rights Alliance, told Express that within the five years since the Accessible India Campaign, the State should have ensured that all public buildings are differently-abled friendly rather than a select 50.
Vaishnavi hit out at the State government for procuring new buses which are not disabled friendly. “It is contempt of court. The Madras High Court has clearly stated that the buses to be procured by the State should be low-floor that it is accessible. They have not done that,” she added. She also highlighted how difficult the Tamil Nadu government websites are for the differently-abled. She said the government should ensure the websites have two languages and it can open up on laptop, mobile and other devices. She also stressed that the government should come out with a new design rather than going in for the 15-year-old outdated design.