GUWAHATI, July 23 - In a welcome development, the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro), has taken the initiative to ensure a barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities.
The accessibility work in the DC office was taken up pursuant to an access audit of the office premises conducted by Shishu Sarothi in November, 2014, which was supported by the Indian Oil Corporation, Guwahati Refinery, Noonmati.
Arman Ali, executive director, Shishu Sarothi, observed that with the Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner�s office being made accessible, this will go a long way in encouraging other public offices to follow suit. �Other government offices should emulate this example and especially the newly built and/or renovated offices, which have a very good scope of including accessibility features right from the initial stage,� pointed out Ali, adding that the old Office of the Deputy Commissioner being made accessible speak a lot for what positive attitude can accomplish.
It needs to be mentioned here that inspite of statutory requirements under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which provides for barrier-free environment to persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others, public places continue to remain inaccessible With 15 percent of the population worldwide living with a disability and 80 percent of those living in developing countries, barriers to access facilities and services remain one major hurdle in ensuring inclusion.
�The Guwahati Refinery has been working for improving the quality of life, social and financial inclusion of the socio-economically marginalized members of society. It has facilitated access to people with special needs, providing mobility enhancement aids, hearing aids, sanitation facilities, skill-development equipment and among others, have also supported Shishu Sarothi in implementing the disabled-friendly infrastructure and convenience facilities at the office complex of Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro),� said Jogen Barpujari, executive director, Guwahati Refinery.
On the other hand, Dr M Angamuthu, Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro), observed, �It is essential that every place of public nature needs to be accessible and concerned authorities and institutions should take the onus upon themselves to conduct access audits to identify lacunae and do the level best to rectify the same.� He also said that access to services and facilities is everyone�s right and it is not about �helping� disabled people, but fulfilling obligations by ensuring accessibility, because in the absence of the same the disabled people are deprived of their right to equal opportunity. Dr Angamuthu went on to comment that there is acute paucity of space in the office and though the office has been, by and large, made accessible, the administration is nevertheless keen to �further explore options of ensuring reasonable accommodations where needed.�
Presently, the office has incorporated ramps at the entrance, hand-railings on staircases, accessible toilet on the ground floor and work for installation of an elevator has been initiated and the same would be completed in the next phase of construction.