Despite having over 10,720 differently abled persons in the district, including 2,378 who are physically challenged as per the 2011 census, a number of public offices in Panchkula fail to provide hassle-free access to this significant section of the population.
Be it the Municipal Corporation (MC) office in Sector 14 which continues to function from a rented building, which even fails to provide adequate space for the employees, or the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) building in Sector 6, the arrangements are inadequate.
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“We understand, there are absolutely no arrangements for physically challenged persons to visit the office. But, there is not much that we can do, since we are awaiting construction of the new building, where we will ensure adequate arrangements for physically challenged people,” said Mayor Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia.
“Though, a proposal was mooted for setting up counters outside, but even that could not be taken up due to paucity of space,” Ahluwalia said.
Ranging from registration of birth and death, marriage certificates, residence certificates, affidavits or even for redressal of complaints regarding civic amenities, the MC office is among the most frequented office for the general public.
But, with public counters in the basement, and a steep staircase, congested corridors, it bars the physically challenged people to avail services.
“What can a physically challenged person do in such cases, apart from asking some one for help? The building does not even facilitate a senior citizen. The staircase is steep, and there is risk of slipping,” said I S Aggarwal, a senior citizen resident of Sector 4.
Asserting that making provision of lifts in some buildings including Mini-Secretariat, Sector 1 has addressed the problem to some extent, President, Citizen Welfare Association, Swadesh Nayyar said, that a lot needs to be done. “The offices need to be disabled-friendly which they are not. Some have made provisions of lifts, but, the ramps, reserved parking lots, signages are inadequate,” he said.
There are lift and ramps in Mini-Secretariat, Sector 1, District Courts, HUDA office, General Hospital, but no lift in MC office in Sector 14.
The General Hospital, which functions from its newly constructed building fares better, with ramps and lifts.