How disabled friendly is the city of Vadodara?
By compiling information obtained through filing multiple applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a resident of Vadodara city Sursingh Solanki, has come up with interesting facts and figures about the degree of compliance to the provisions of Persons with Disability (PwD) Act, 1995 by public offices and institutions of the city.
Most of the primary education centres across the district have constructed ramps and reserved space for parking for the disabled. However, though there are as many as 5,777 disabled students in the primary schools of Vadodara, but merely 429 schools out of 2,318 in the district have special toilets that are disabled-friendly.
Further, the majority of the buildings in Vadodara do not have ramps, specialized lifts, parking area, toilets and signage. Out of the 31 public buildings in the city regarding which Solanki sought information, none of them have a proper signage and many are not disabled-friendly. The replies show that the courts are the least disabled-friendly buildings as the Nyay Mandir, Lal Court Building and Fast-track court do not have a barrier-free infrastructure to ensure complete accessibility to the physically-disabled. There is no ramp, toilet, signage, reserved parking or specialized lift for the disabled. The situation is no different with the Education institutes, including Central Library and State Training Centre. The exceptions to the absence of facilities for the disabled are the health centers in Vadodara and Dabhoi which have installed specialized ramps, lifts and toilets, while the centres at Karjan and Shinor are yet to modify their infrastructure. In additions, the district panchayat office is the only building that has a ramp.
The provisions of Persons with Disability (PwD) Act, 1995 provides for a barrier-free infrastructure to ensure complete accessibility to the physically-disabled. General Development Control Regulations (GDCR) lay down specific guidelines to ensure that the public places are disabled-friendly and the disabled can have easy access to the public places. However, most of the public places in the country seem to be not so friendly for the disabled underlying the need to make the country “barrier free” for them.