BHUBANESWAR: With International Day for Persons with Disabilities being observed on December 3, citizens' groups and experts have advocated barrier-free access facilities for disabled persons at public buildings like offices, shopping malls, healthcare institutions, banks, community and religious institutions in the city.
They suggested that the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) should implement the Persons with Disabilities Act 1955 (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation), and press these institutions into creating the necessary facilities.
"In 2008, the BDA had incorporated the regulations to provide barrier-free access to persons with disabilities. It should ask older public institutions to follow suit," said chairman of the Indian Institute of Architect (IIA), Sanjib Guru. He said that ramp, wheelchair and elevators are mandatory.
As per regulations, facilities should be made available for broadly four types of disability such as non-ambulatory, semi-ambulatory, vision and hearing impairment. "At least 1.2 meter width of ramp should be created by the BDA in public buildings to enable the mobility of semi-ambulatory persons and non-ambulatory persons using wheelchairs," said Guru.
It is estimated that Bhubaneswar has more than 200 public buildings with no facilities for disabled persons. A BDA official said that since 2008 there has been an effort to equip all new buildings, including residential ones with the required implements. Buildings that came up before 2008 are yet to install them. We will soon ask the concerned agencies to create at least a ramp in every building," said the official.
In Bhubaneswar, barrier-free access is yet to be made available at the airport, railway stations, bus stops, temples and tourist sites.
Urban planner Piyush Rout said signage with audio signals is an urgent requirement. "It is important that street infrastructure should be accessible, safe and ensure dignity for all, irrespective of age, gender and disability," he said.