Giving hope to the differently abled couple who have been living on the top floor of a three-storey building in the rehabilitation colony in Sector 38 (West) for the past five years, officials of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) have assured that their demand for a ground-floor flat will be considered.
Kamlesh, 40, who has 80 per cent physical disability, lives with her husband Naresh Kumar who too is disabled. Adding to their difficulties is the fact that Kamlesh has a needle embedded in her stomach, for which she needs to make regular visits to doctors.
Newsline had highlighted their case in a report on August 11.
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“On Tuesday, I met the CHB secretary who told us that if we had met her before, we would have been shifted to the ground floor. I told her that we have been making rounds of the CHB office for the last five years. Then on Wednesday, we met Chief Accounts Officer A C Juneja who asked us to give in writing that we had never submitted such an application in the past,” said Naresh.
Juneja said that they would look for a ground-floor house in the same locality. If it was not available, the couple could be given a flat at Dhanas where many houses were vacant.
Juneja said Naresh had never approached the board before and even if he had, there was no proof. “If he can give us proof of his previous applications, we’ll take action against those officials who ignored his requests,” he added.
On Thursday, after searching his house, Naresh found copies of three old applications, one was addressed to the DC while two were addressed to the administrator, written in 2009.
“They were simply trying to erase all the suffering I went through. But how can they prove me wrong? When I went to the CHB office on Wednesday, an employee met me after several years and said in a shocked tone, ‘Nareshji, apka abhi tak kaam nahi hua?’” Naresh said.
Commenting on the couple’s story, social activists say that the city and its administration is not disabled-friendly. While there is no legal provision for allotment of ground-floor flats to the differently abled, it is the responsibility of the administration, in general, to provide them a barrier-free environment, they assert.
Col (retd) Gurdeep Singh, chairman of the Chesire Home for the physically disabled in Sector 21, said, “Naturally, those who are differently abled should be allotted ground-floor flats. Even otherwise, there should be ramps and lifts everywhere for the disabled persons so that they can work and live smoothly. I know an employee of the Chandigarh College of Engineering, Harmesh, who walks with crutches and has been allotted a room on the first floor. We tried to get him shifted and I personally met the adviser along with him and requested him to provide him a ground-floor flat even it was outside the campus, but we found no success.”
Pooja, who runs NGO Samarth, a home for the mentally disabled, said, “When the administration allotted 42 booths to persons with disabilities in Sectors 38 and 40, around 10 of these were on the first floor. Although the allottees faced problems, they didn’t complain because they feared they might lose the booths.’’
CHB Chief Executive Officer Rodney L Ralte said, “The general practice while allotting houses to the differently abled is to give them ground-floor flats. Otherwise, they can request us later to shift them downstairs.”