When it comes to ensuring accessibility for the disabled (or differently-abled) in public buildings and spaces in Assam, the State government is yet to get going. In most parts of the State including capital city Guwahati, facilities to ensure unhindered movement for persons with disability are missing in government offices, hospitals, schools, workplaces and footpaths. There is little or no investment in special services, lighting, sigges, steps, ramps, corridors, entry gates, emergency exits, parking, alarm systems and toilets both in indoor and outdoor spaces. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 has been brought into force from April 19 this year, widely hailed as a game-changer to benefit the differently-abled. The Centre has been calling upon state governments to extensively educate people with disabilities about the new law so that they can avail of benefits under various schemes. The Central government already has the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) going since December 2015, which seeks to make at least 50 percent of all government buildings in the tiol capital and all state capitals ‘fully accessible’ for the disabled by July 2018. Similar deadlines have been set to make airports and railway stations. And the Assam government is taking its time, getting around to submit only a list of 100 government buildings to the Centre for required conversion works. The audit of 48 of these buildings have been completed, while the State PWD will prepare the plan estimate — which in turn will then be sent to the Centre. The plan estimates for only five buildings have been submitted by implementing agency Social Welfare department to the State government. All this goes to show that the differently-abled in the State will have a long time to wait before they can access public offices for their welfare needs.
Accessibility for disabled