RLBs flouting disabled-friendly laws face action

RLBs flouting disabled-friendly laws face action

The State government has strictly instructed all the rural local bodies - Gram Panchayats, Taluk Panchayats and Zilla Panchayats - constituting the three-tier Panchayat Raj system to create a hassle-free and conducive atmosphere for the free movement of the disabled in government establishments.

Though this provision has been clearly spelt out in the Physically Challenged (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Complete Participation) Act, 1995, many rural local bodies (RLBs) have totally ignored it.

A circular issued by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Secretariat clearly states that all the facilities prescribed in the Act should be adopted without further delay. These facilities can be created within the permissible financial limits of the Panchayat Raj institutions. The government has taken the matter seriously with complaints pouring in from different quarters, particularly the Commissionerate of the Physically Challenged, about the blatant violation of the Central legislation enacted 15 years ago.

The RLBs have been directed to create ramps and railings in public buildings; construct toilets specially designed for persons moving in wheelchairs; install Braille symbols in elevators/lifts. Special emphasis has been laid on creating these facilities in medical and health establishments as also rehabilitation centres.

The movement of the disabled with the assistance of others is a common sight in rural parts of the State.

At some places, they are carried by others to the offices. In the absence of ramps, the physically challenged face problems to exercise their right during polls, though the Election Commission issues directions to create ramps at all polling booths.

It has become imperative to adopt these facilities in government and semi-government establishments in new buildings. The competent authorities, while issuing construction permission for buildings, should ensure that the statutory facilities required for safety of the differently-abled are incorporated. The authorities should issue building completion certificates only after confirming that all measures meant for the disabled are incorporated.

The authorities concerned have been asked to review the creation of facilities every six months and send action taken reports to the government.

Action will be taken against the concerned authorities if they fail to follow the circular in letter and spirit.

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