Climbing two steps at the Delhi government’s Social Welfare Department office on December 5, 2015, was like “overcoming Mount Everest” for Dr. Satendra Singh (40).
* Paralympics player Pradeep Raj (37) can’t access the District Magistrate’s office in east Delhi for allowance or to avail essential services.
* Activist Nipun Malhotra (30) was once called to give a talk on disability at the Delhi Secretariat — where ramps for wheelchairs were unusable.
All three are differently abled and struggle to access basic facilities in the city, in the absence of infrastructure which, for two years now, has been mandated by law. In December 2016, the Centre had notified the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act. Model rules were issued, guidelines laid out, but the Delhi government is yet to frame the Delhi State rules to ensure implementation.
As the world marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, an audit of official buildings and offices — ordered by the High Court in April 2017, following a petition by Malhotra — paints a picture of apathy. The PWD’s architecture department, Malhotra, and an expert agency hired by the Delhi government conducted the accessibility audit.
* Out of 560 buildings audited — from police stations, fire stations, hospitals, courts, and government offices — only 71 are disabled-friendly.
* In at least six instances, progress on making buildings accessible is stated to be “slow on part of the contractors”.
* In some instances, work has not been started by contractors; in others, tenders have been invited again.
* In 76 instances, work is likely to be completed, depending on the sanction of funds.
* Of the buildings audited, there are only 45 partly disabled-friendly ones, including the L-G House, Tihar Jail, Delhi Vidhan Sabha and Tis Hazari court complex.