New Delhi : India’s Parliament will soon become disabled friendly, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said Wednesday.
“I have given instructions to the parliament secretariat to make the house disabled-friendly and barrier free soon. I have also asked the parliament to purchase things made by the disabled people for use in the house,” Kumar said during an interaction with women journalists here.
Activists working for disabled people have been demanding for long to make the house accessible to the physically challenged.
India is home to 60 million disabled people. Of them, 48 percent are visually impaired, 28 percent are movement impaired, 14 percent are mentally disabled and 10 percent are hearing and speech impaired, according to “People with Disabilities in India: From Commitments to Outcomes,” a report prepared by World Bank in collaboration with the Indian Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
“Making the historic Sansad Bhavan (Parliament House) accessible to persons with disabilities will go a long way to help the disabled population get access to public space without any barriers,” K.R. Rajendra, regional representative of Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD), told IANS.
“Leave alone the old buildings, even the newly constructed ones do not have any provisions for the disabled,” said Javed Abidi, president of the Disabled Rights Group and secretary of the Commonwealth Disability Forum.
“The parliament building is a heritage site for all Indians and if it is turned into a disabled friendly zone, then we can hope that rest of the buildings and public spaces in India will turn accessible to the disabled,” Abidi told IANS.
The parliament house is a circular building designed by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker in 1912.
The rights activists said besides making the entire parliament building a barrier free zone for the disabled, there should be reserved parking and drop-off area for their vehicles, within 20 metres of its entrance.
The area should be marked with symbols and a system should be put in place to ensure that others do not use the reserved parking space, activists say.
“An information board carrying details of these facilities must be set up at the entrance to the building itself, with appropriate signposts installed at various points inside the parliament house to help physically challenged visitors,” said Rajendra.
Introduction of Braille symbols, first hand help, ramps, railings, lifts and accessible toilets are the other provisions which the activists believe should be put at parliament house to make it a disabled friendly zone.