Delhi to become barrier free by 2008
DNIS News Network - Delhi will be a disabled-friendly and barrier-free city by the year 2008, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation Chairperson Sonia Gandhi announced while releasing a document ‘Accessible Delhi – a road map 2003-2008’ on the birth anniversary of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on August 20, 2003.
The document, conceptualised in collaboration with the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) and the Council of Architecture, contains the blueprint for enabling access to all public places and facilities in the city to disabled people.
Sonia Gandhi handed over the document to Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, who declared the year from August 20, 2003 to August 19, 2004 as the ‘Accessible Delhi Year’.
Speaking on the occasion, Gandhi criticised the fact that Delhi, with a disabled population of 1 million, is insensitive to their needs.
“Sadly, very little has been done to make the city disabled-friendly. Most disabled people are forced to lead a life in isolation. Even our public transport system is insensitive to their needs.
“This is not a matter of charity but grave concern if disabled people of the city are not allowed to participate in the national life.”
She expressed her happiness in creating a ‘Caring Delhi’. “I am delighted that the Foundation has taken an initiative to make Delhi disabled-friendly or at least, less disabled-unfriendly” she quipped.
As per the plans in phase one, stretching over a five-year-period, the effort will be to make 50 percent of Delhi’s built area completely accessible. In the initial stages, it is believed that at least one project in each of the nine districts of Delhi will be made accessible as a test case.
Bus terminals and bus stop shelters will be made disabled-friendly with tactile warning signs and curb cuts. Bus stops will have route-maps and schedules in Braille. Level differences are being planned between footpath and roads through ramps, along with guide blocks. Toilets will also be made accessible.
The blueprint clearly defines accessible entries and exits and reserved parking lots at railway stations. As per the plan, facilities like appointed place for disabled-friendly coaches, public telephones, availability of elevators and horizontal transport to cross over from one platform to another, and audio-visual signages will be created.
In the existing buses of Delhi, announcement systems are being planned. Other plans include availability of portable ramps, announcement systems, and horizontal handrails; grab bars and vertical poles and a place to accommodate a wheelchair. The plan is to introduce 10 specially designed disabled-friendly buses every year, says the blueprint.
Airports will have accessible reserved parking lots within 100 feet of the entry point, apart from having accessible entry and exit, says the manual. The ticketing and information centres will be made accessible with disabled-friendly toilets and telephones, it says.
The book clearly specifies similar changes to be incorporated in other public places like colleges and shopping malls too.
Speaking on the occasion, Sheila Dikshit said: “Delhi being the capital of India should be a role model for other cities to create a barrier-free universal design. It gives us a very special honour and responsibility to make Delhi disabled-friendly.
“What affects Delhi most is its unfriendly public transport system. While we have been able to make Delhi Metro disabled-friendly, we are trying to bring in high-capacity disabled-friendly buses.”