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Nagaland govt buildings, public spaces inaccessible for PwDs: Disability commissioner

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KOHIMA, Aug 19: Nagaland State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (SCPWD) Diethono Nakhro lamented that many government offices and public spaces in the state have not built the infrastructure necessary to make them accessible for persons with disabilities.
Nakhro said the Public Works Department of the state government in a notification on February 5, 2019, had stated that all public buildings and spaces in the state should be made accessible to the PwDs.
“Many government buildings are still inaccessible for PwDs. We cannot continue to deprive the disabled community of our state,” said Nakhro while addressing a workshop on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for the engineers and officials of the Public Works Department (Housing) here on Friday.
“It is a sad reflection of our society that all our new public buildings and spaces are having to go through retrofitting processes to make them accessible when they should have been necessarily designed and planned inclusively for all citizens right from the start.
“In fact, none of these new buildings should have been given no Objection Certificate or completion certificate for occupation until and unless they were in compliance with all the accessibility requirements,” she said.
Nakhro said it is completely unacceptable that virtually all government and public buildings and spaces are still inaccessible.
Section 44 of the RPwD Act 2016 states that “No establishment shall be granted permission to build any structure if the building plan does not adhere to the rules formulated by the Central government under section 40,” she said, adding that all building plans should necessarily comply with all accessibility features mentioned in the Harmonised Guidelines before they get permission to start building – ramps, lifts, accessible toilets, accessible doorways and corridors, barrier-free floor plans, tactile tiles and signages and so on.
“No construction should be allowed to start unless the building plans, blueprints include all basic accessibility features,” she said.
The PwD Commissioner while asking the department to maintain accessibility data of all government and public buildings, said accessibility is a fundamental human right and non-negotiable.
“Laws and rules are well and good and can be executed to a certain degree – but it’s the empathy, the proper understanding of the needs of people who live with disabilities that will actually bring about the change that we require in our landscape of buildings and structures,” she said.
Meanwhile, engineer-in-chief of PWD, Pukroneizo Kera asserted that the department would henceforth ensure that every upcoming project will be made accessible to the PwDs while those existing ones will also be retrofitted for easy access. (PTI)

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