On the outside, every government building in Mohali seems disabled-friendly with ramps and multiple elevators but the reality is far from what meets the eye. The ramps in most of these buildings exist only on the ground floor.
Instead of having special facilities for the disabled to make travel and work easier, the existing facilities only make it tougher. Gurdeep Singh, a physically challenged employee at the Punjab School Education Board, says, “The existing ramps are of no use. I have to travel much more to get to another building and as there are no ramps between floors, getting into an elevator is also very tough because they are always cramped with people.”
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The real problem starts in case there is a power cut and the elevators do no work. In such situations, there is no way a physically challenged person can travel between floors.
One of the latest government buildings to come up in Mohali is “Vikas Bhawan” that houses the Rural Development and Panchayat Department. The building has a ramp up to the first floor but no doors in the front. Even if you go all the way to the side, the first door that enters the building is locked, which according to the authorities can be opened “whenever needed”. Director of the Department, Sukhjit Singh Bains refused to comment on the matter saying that he is not the person to talk to regarding this matter.
The Municipal Corporation building in Mohali is so aesthetically pleasing that music videos have been shot in it. Jagjit Singh, an employee who uses a wheelchair, says, “My seat is at the ground floor and I am allowed to take my scooter all the way to my seat. The problem, however, is with the washroom which is more than two hundred meters away and has no facilities for the disabled.” The washroom has a dug-up floor where going with a wheelchair could be very difficult and as is the case with almost every government building, there is no sink at a lower height which means a person on a wheelchair may not even be able to wash his hands.
According to the Chief Administrator of Greater Mohali Area development Authority (GMADA) A K Sinha, “There is a ramp at the ground floor and then a lift with twenty four hour battery backup.” On being asked about the facilities in toilets, Sinha said, “There is no problem for the handicapped as a person with a wheelchair can easily access it.”