Not quite disabled friendly

Not quite disabled friendly
Highlights

Telangana is home to 12.2 per cent of its citizens who are disabled; and the country houses one-eighth of the world’s population of senior citizens.In spite of such overwhelming statistics, the community still has to face a lot of shortcomings each day. Government offices are institutions that require every citizen, including the disabled and elderly, to visit them at least once in a lifetime.

Telangana is home to 12.2 per cent of its citizens who are disabled; and the country houses one-eighth of the world’s population of senior citizens.In spite of such overwhelming statistics, the community still has to face a lot of shortcomings each day. Government offices are institutions that require every citizen, including the disabled and elderly, to visit them at least once in a lifetime.


According to Article 41 of the Constitution, the government should mandatorily ensure the well being of senior citizens. To make the places of authority easily accessible to them is a responsibility that the government is failing to live up to.Prime examples are the sub-registrar offices in Punjagutta and Prashant Nagar where the service is located on the second floor with no elevator, ramps or wheelchairs.


The stairs leading up to the main office are steep and difficult to tread even for fully-fit individuals. The offices provide services such as rental agreements, sale deeds, gift deeds, etc. As if this was not tortures enough, the office in Punjagutta doesn’t have a parking lot. People who come in four-wheelers find it very difficult to find a place to park close by.


“I had a surgery on both my legs. So I couldn’t walk till the office or climb the stairs. I had to wait for an hour in the car, which was parked near the main road. It was really hot and I was so tired after a long wait,” lamented 83-year-old Leelavathamma. Her 91-year-old husband Ratnam, though managed to walk up the stairs, expressed concern for other senior citizens.

The approach road to Banjara Hills Pension Office is full of potholes causing inconvenience to commuters.

Similarly the pension office of retired defence personnel in Banjara Hills, which is visited by 60 to 100 pensioners in a month, is one of the most striking examples of inaccessibility. The uneven road leading up to the office is in an extremely bad condition with rubble and loose stone. It threatens aged pensioners with the danger of their vehicle skidding.


“This place has been under litigation for more than 10 years now. Someone else is claiming this land. The government cannot do anything until the case is cleared by the Supreme Court,” said an employee of the pension office who was disappointed with the judicial process of the country.

The GHMC office is one of the few buildings which has ramps to aid the differently-abled

Although a compromise, Prashant Nagar Joint Sub-Registrar Sadashivudu said that his office has figured out a temporary solution to help the aged and disabled. “If someone is unable to climb up the stairs, we send a boy downstairs to get the details,” he said. Sadashivudu candidly admitted that people’s network of the office was not up to the mark and this might hamper simple procedures.


“We have a private attendant after 4:30 pm who are sent to people’s houses or hospitals to get their signatures at a cost of Rs 1,000,” he said. But why are government offices not being shifted to more accessible locations where so many people visit, is a question that is plaguing a large chunk of the population. “All these buildings are rented. To find places in the city in convenient areas, with parking and on the ground floor, is very difficult,” responded Sadashivudu.


But not all government offices are ill-equipped. Buildings such as the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation head office and Passport Office in Begumpet are fitted with elevators and ramps for wheel chairs. The Passport Office is also comfortably accessible by the aged, the disabled and the general public. It is time that the authorities brought these necessities not just to a few, but all government buildings.

By:Nikhita Gowra

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