Durga Puja marquees in Kolkata inaccessible to disabled: Survey

Kolkata, Oct 15 (IANS) Despite the centre’s Accessible India campaign, the disabled did not have “fair” access to most marquees during the just-concluded Durga Puja festival, a survey has found.

The findings of the “Disability Access to Durga Puja Pandals in Kolkata: 2016” survey of 14 marquees conducted by the Civilian Welfare Foundation (CWF) showed that there were wheelchairs in all the pandals except few, but “wheelchairs were mostly inaccessible at the time of visit”.

“In comparison to last year the disability accessibility and inclusivity has somewhat deteriorated even after central government campaigns of Accessible India,” the organisation’s president Abhirupa Kar said on Saturday.

Puja organisers lack “the basic sensitivity” and understanding of “making the puja accessible for all…they are falling behind on providing adequate equipment and a common pandal going experience for all,” it said.

According to the report, there was a prominent discrimination felt from the disability point of view. “Pandals created stairs instead of ramps or made separate ways beside the normal access point for general public, thus rejecting the person with disability the major attractions of the pandals,” it said.

The report also said the general public way should be made disabled friendly and rather “should not be any way separate – a perspective completely overlooked by puja committees”.

“Inclusivity has been completely ignored,” the report said.

According to latest Census, the country’s disabled population increased by 22.4 per cent between 2001 and 2011.

The survey also claimed that awareness and sensitivity among the Puja committees regarding disability was still a distant reality. “For an example giving them a restricted view of pandal or asking disabled people to come in the morning just shows their discrimination, lack of sensitivity and understanding with regards to disabled population,” the report said.

–IANS

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