50 Govt offices will be made PwD-friendly: Jacinta Lazarus

STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 16th May: 
Under the Accessible India Campaign (AIC), 50 office buildings of Government of Manipur located in the state capital have been selected to undergo retrofitting works so as to provide easy access to physically challenged persons.
This was informed by Social Welfare Department director Jacinta Lazarus to The People’s Chronicle on Wednesday.
She also informed that funds have been sanctioned by the Ministry concerned to start works on transforming all government websites for easy access by persons who are physically challenged and added that the department will be joining hands with IT department to initiate the process for the same.
Director Jacinta said that as part of various projects undertaken by AIC under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the welfare of physically challenged, 50 office buildings have been identified for retrofitting so as to facilitate convenient access to people with disabilities (PwDs).
She further said that a consultation team based at Pune has already completed the assessment of the selected office buildings which includes the Governor Secretariat, CM Secretariat, Old and New secretariat, Social Welfare Department and other major directorates and new office buildings.
Stating that the retrofitting work will be taken up both at the Hills and the valley, director Jacintha conveyed that for the first phase, the work would be taken at the state capital. During this phase, physically challenged-friendly toilets would also be installed at one important building each in five hill districts that are taking up beneficiary oriented schemes, she added.
She said that the estimated cost of the work on 25 buildings have already been submitted to the Ministry while process is ongoing to estimate the cost for the remaining 25 buildings. The total estimate of the 50 buildings is expected to be around Rs 30/40 crore, she said.
Conveying that the Ministry has given assurances of releasing the funds by first week of June, Jacintha said that works will be initiated as soon as the funds are released. As part of the retrofitting works, lifts/elevators, ramps, handrails, etc., will be included apart from installation of physically challenged-friendly toilets, she added.
Stating that target has been set to complete the works by June, the director maintained that the second phase will be undertaken at district headquarters soon after the completion of the first phase. Important district level buildings will be selected for this and the buildings at state headquarters which could not be included in the first phase will be covered in the second phase, she stated.
The director then went on to say that Social Welfare Department would be joining hands with IMC to ascertain if major hospitals, recreation centres and public utility buildings of the state have been constructed under strict building bylaw with easy access for physically challenged persons. The department along with the government would be proposing for making building bylaws more stringent, Jacintha said.
Apart from looking into the condition of the building, the department would also be looking into steps to make public transport more accessible to physically challenged people. The project will be taken up by SWD as a nodal department in collaboration with other departments, she added.
Stating that the projects/works have been taken up to encourage and empower physically challenged persons, Jacintha appealed to all physically challenged persons to apply for smart card at the department which will ensure free travel on all buses of Manipur State Transport. For the first phase, the card will be distributed within 10 days and will be embedded with a unique hologram to prevent duplication, the director informed.


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