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M.C.D moots draft for changes in building byelaws; no mention of access for persons with disability

DNIS News Network - The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (M.C.D.) is all set to change its 22-year-old building byelaws, but there are fears that the issue of accessibility for people with disabilities may be reduced to the margins of the grand vision for new byelaws.

New byelaws by MCD must include access for the disabled

M.C.D. Commissioner Rakesh Mehta unveiled the draft copy of new byelaws at a workshop with members of Resident Welfare Associations (R.W.As) as invited participants.It could have been a moment of optimism for persons with disabilities and stakeholders, who have been fighting to make the city landscape more accessible. Instead, it has turned into a moment of anxiety as the issue of access finds only a single line mention in the draft.

The Corporation’s move to bring the draft in public domain seems to be geared at making the process apparently more representative, but the goal would sadly continue to elude the body till recommendations and issues regarding accessibility are accommodated.

The Disability Act 1995, mandates accessible public places, roads, etc. It also provides for preferential allotment of land to disabled people. However, most provisions remain only on paper.

In a letter to the M.C.D, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) has made recommendations for making the new byelaws sensitive to accessibility needs of persons with disability.

These are:

1. The preamble and definitions of the new building byelaws should include ‘disability access’, ‘barrier free environment for disabled people’ and ‘universal design’.

2. The minimum performance standards and specifications, which are being developed for the buildings, should include ‘disability access’ as one of the key requirements for the buildings to comply to.

3. The byelaws pertaining to land use and density, height and setback of buildings and parking requirement must also take into account the needs of persons with disability.

4. As the new building byelaws rely on professional certification, the architects and construction engineers on M.C.D. panel should have thorough knowledge of disability access and universal design. There could be a refresher/training course for these professionals to enable them on the same.

5. One of the minimum qualification requirements for the professionals to be listed with M.C.D. should be knowledge on disability access and barrier free environment.

6. Last but not the least, experts in the field of disability access should be involved in the preparation of the new building byelaws.