India

Plea in Madras HC seeks wide publicity to draft guidelines on access

By PTI

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Friday issued notice to the concerned authorities on a PIL, directing the central government to publish the “Harmonized Guidelines and Standards for Universal Access in India, 2021” in an accessible format and in vernacular languages. was demanded to be given.

The petitioner also wanted the officers to make available printed copies for inspection at designated offices, give wide publicity about the same in print and electronic media and invite public comments for at least 30 days.

A division bench of Justice TS Sivaganam and Justice Sati Kumar Sukumara Kurup, before which a petition by city resident Vaishnavi Jayakumar came up, ordered to serve the notice to the authorities concerned, which is refundable by October 20.

The petitioner, who is a cross-disability rights advocate, has been living with a psychosocial disability for over a decade, struggling to overcome the physical and behavioral barriers that Indians with disabilities face time and again, He submitted that the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) in New Delhi uploaded the draft “Harmonized Guidelines and Standards for Universal Accessibility in India, 2021” along with an office memorandum on August 12.

It is not known when this draft was uploaded on the CPWD website.

The OM said the draft was being put up for public comments and responses could be submitted by e-mail by August 27.

The petitioner argued that the draft guidelines were not given wide publicity.

Being non-screen reader compatible it was inaccessible to persons with disabilities and was made available in the English language only.

Persons with disabilities were the best judges of their needs in terms of infrastructure, product design, housing and services.

“Failing to communicate in any manner that the harmonized guidelines were being reviewed, that stakeholder consultations were being conducted before the draft guidelines were finalized and that the subject draft guidelines were placed in the public domain for comments The Respondents had defeated their purpose. This exercise. The people for whose benefit the guidelines are being framed were denied access to this consultation process. The petitioner said, “Without us about us,” the petitioner said. in nothing” the whole thrust of the philosophy is lost.

It prayed that the court restrain the CPWD and the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry from issuing or publishing the final guidelines.

His main request is to direct the two authorities to publish the draft guidelines in accessible format and in vernacular language, make available printed copies for inspection at designated offices, provide wide publicity in print and electronic media regarding the draft guidelines. and invite public comments. At least 30 days.

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