PUNE: In a bid to promote inclusivity, the DesignBridge Foundation, a voluntary organisation working in the field of accessibility and Universal Design Centre of MKSSS’s Dr BN College of Architecture (BNCA) have announced the formation of a ‘Barrier-free Maharashtra Citizen Pressure Group’ on the occasion of International Day of Disabled Persons. The State-wide initiative aims to promote awareness about the Rights of Persons With Disability (RPWD) Act, 2016 amongst common people.
DesignBridge Founder Abhijeet Murugkar said, “Although we have the RPWD Act, 2016, the general awareness about it amongst the public and influential decision-makers in public and private establishments is very low and dismal. Schools, colleges, universities, offices, banks, post offices, hospitals, gardens, roads, footpaths, malls, cinema theatres, hotels, restaurants, places of worship, museums, bus stops, transportation hubs, vehicles and public transport continue to be inaccessible to persons with disabilities.”
He added, “With over 40 crore of Indian population slated to reach an age of 60 by 2050, it is very critical to ensure that we take concrete action on the ground to stop the creation of inaccessible environments, products and services so that this ageing population can also benefit.”
‘Barrier-free Maharashtra’ will extensively use social media platforms to highlight issues relevant to the implementation of RPWD Act and non-compliance or violation of the same in public and private establishments. The ‘Barrier-free Maharashtra’ social media team has planned to compile all such data contributed by citizen volunteers across the State.
“If developed cities like Mumbai and Pune have such low levels of awareness about this important issue, one can only imagine the situation in Tier 2 cities like Aurangabad, Solapur, Satara and many others in Maharashtra. We aim to connect with committed individuals and organisations in all cities and towns of Maharashtra to share details of issues related to the implementation of RPWD Act. We will follow the issues up by all means available, including legal recourse,” Murugkar further said.
BNCA Principal Anurag Kashyap also appealed to authorities, disability rights activists and citizens to come forward, support and join the Barrier-free Maharashtra Citizens Pressure Group to bring about the desired change for an inclusive future.
Eminent persons with disabilities such as disability rights’ activist and Professor Sanjay Jain, financial consultant and disability rights activist Ujwala Bairagi, web technologies and information communication accessibility expert Dhananjay Bhole and nationally-recognised Universal Accessibility specialist Professor Kavita Murugkar were amongst those present on the occasion.