Funds to boost access for disabled unspent: Activist

Funds to boost access for disabled unspent: Activist

PUNE: The Pune Municipal Corporation has not allocated even 5% of its budgetory provision for disabledfriendly amenities as per the Union government norms, alleged Abhijit Murugkar, founder of the NGO Design Bridge Foundation.
Murugkar, along with a disabled persons’ facilitation forum — Barrier Free Maharashtra — has prepared a list of demands to make buildings more accessible for disabled people. The list includes bespoke infrastructural modifications in schools, PMC ward offices, bus stops and other key locations. The list will soon be submitted to the municipal commissioner.

Murugkar has worked in the field of built environment for the past 12 years and was appointed by the state government to submit survey reports and access audits of 500 buildings across nine of its cities.
“As per the Union government’s norms, under the Right to Persons with Disability (RPWD) Act 2016, the civic body is supposed to allocate 5% of its annual budget for building amenities for people with disabilities. They also have a mandate to form an advisory body, but the PMC has not done this,” he said.
Murugkar added that in Pune, as part of the the Accessible India campaign under the RPWD Act, work has been done in about 35 buildings by the state public works department to make the structures accessible.
“However, the work done is not completely fool-proof. Disability is being seen only from the wheelchair perspective. One cannot improve access just by providing a ramp and a special washroom. You need to address 21 disabilities as per the RPWD Act. They need to consider pregnant women, children and senior citizens too,” he added.
About the RPWD Act, he said, all states have to notify the Act.
“The Union government in 2016 had provided funds for 50 buildings in Pune — to make access easier for those with disabilities. Under the Accessible India Campaign, 35 buildings carried out modifications, but buildings like the PMC HQ and PMC ward offices, still haven’t complied. Each department had to send budget requirements to the Union government for money to be released. However, PMC did not even send that report in the budget.”
Murugkar said the civic body should form a special committee to improve accessibility across the city.
“The PMC needs to have some kind of a coordinating committee, in which staff don’t carry out fragmented work. This committee will help look at it holistically and set the right system in place.”
The municipal corporation, meanwhile, said it’s doing its bit to improve access citywide. “The civic administration has been making efforts to ensure adequate provisions are in place for those with disabilities. A special mention of the problem will be made during the budget to highlight this provision,” said Sunil Indalkar, head of the PMC’s urban community department (UCD).
He added that funds are being used to develop facilities including ramps and other amenities. He said the money is also being utilised to provide special equipment such as wheelchairs at key buildings across the city.

 Source : Times of India

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