Pune: Around 80 physically challenged persons turn up to attend a special programme organised by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Tuesday to mark ‘International Day for Disabled Persons’ at the Jawaharlal Nehru Auditorium at Ghole Road. But shockingly, the civic body failed to make proper arrangements for them.
Due to the lack of disabled-friendly infrastructure, the physically challenged persons faced difficulty in entering the venue. PMC officials responsible for creating barrier-free infrastructure and those responsible for the management of the auditorium have however chosen to blame each other for the mismanagement.
Rafique Khan, spokesperson of Prahar Apang Kranti Andolan said, “There were no ramps to help us get inside the auditorium. The officials assured us there will be proper arrangements made for us, but they did not keep their promise.”
“In addition, there was lack of cleanliness in the auditorium,” he added.
It may be recalled that the main objectives of ‘Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1996, enacted by the Government of India are to create a barrier-free environment for persons with disabilities and to make special provisions for the integration of persons with disabilities into the social mainstream.
Interestingly, this is not the first time that lack of disabled-friendly infrastructure is being highlighted. Last year too at a similar programme the same issue made the headlines.
Last year, the PMC assured that proper arrangements will be made for the next year’s programme. However, this year too, the situation remained the same, said a person who attended this programme.
Another person, who faced the similar issue added, “Those who were present there had arranged a temporary ramp for us, but that was very risky. The event was supposed to start at 11 am. Due to lack of proper infrastructure at the venue, we all helped each other and the event started two hours late.”
PMC officials blame each other
The administration of Balgandharva Rangmandir looks after the management of Jawaharlal Nehru Auditorium at Ghole Road.
Sanjay Ranjane, Chief Social Development Officer of PMC, said, “We had written a letter to the officials of Balgandharva Rangmandir on making proper arrangements at the venue before the event. However, they did not make such arrangements. We have less manpower so there were no volunteers to help the disables.”
However, Prakash Amrale, Chief Administrative Officer of Balgandharva Rangmandir, said, “Since the time of construction of the auditorium, there was no proper infrastructure for physically challenged persons. We are now working on the infrastructure. We had already updated PMC officials about the situation and they should have made arrangements from their side.”