Volume 6 Issue 9 - October 15, 2009

Barrier free Delhi - Ministry more keen on a quick fix

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: Under pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office (P.M.O.), the Ministry of Urban Development seems to have finally woken up to creating a barrier free Capital city. But whether they woken up fully is another story altogether! From the way rushed meetings are being convened and Committees being formed without proper representation from the sector, it seems the Ministry is more keen on a quick fix than a long term vision or plan.

Surprisingly, their aim is to ‘harmonise’ the three guidelines currently in place for accessibility. An exercise which is as good as re-inventing the wheel since N.C.P.E.D.P. in collaboration with AccessAbility had come out with a draft of proposed revisions to access guidelines of the National Building Code way back in July! The draft was widely circulated in the disability sector and submitted to the Bureau of Indian Standards!

Now, three months later, a meeting, chaired by Joint Secretary, A.K. Mehta, was held on October 9 with the same aim, i.e. to create a single set of guidelines on access.

“Currently there are three different guidelines for barrier free construction set by Chief Commissioner for People with Disabilities (C.C.P.D.), Bureau of Indian Standards (B.I.S.) and Central Public Works Department (C.P.W.D.). The objective of the meeting was to put all these three guidelines into one document,” said Ashutosh Joshi, Director, Ministry of Urban Development. But how do you ‘harmonise’ three different guidelines that are under three different Ministries? C.P.W.D. comes under the Ministry of Urban Development; C.C.P.D. under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and B.I.S. under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution. Officials did not have a clear answer to that.

“Probably all three Ministries would look into these,” said Joshi.

The Committee includes Poonam Natarajan, Chairperson of the National Trust, representatives from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, C.C.P.D., C.P.W.D., B.I.S., among others.

While two organizations claiming to be knowledgeable on accessibility and infamous in the sector for their pro – government stance were invited to the meeting, AccessAbility, by far the best, the most credible and probably the only organization with real knowledge on access issues was left out.

“We did try to contact them but couldn’t,” was all that Joshi had to say on this.

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