Under the RPwD Act, 2016, harmonised guidelines and space standards are set up to enhance barrier-free environment for senior citizens and persons with disabilities Credit: Pixabay

Guwahati: In its move to protect the rights and interests of specially-abled persons as per the provisions of the Constitution of India, the office of the commissioner for Persons with Disabilities in Assam has served notices to various Assam government departments for allegedly violating provisions of the Rights of Person with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016.

It has also asked these departments to submit details on various works initiated under the Act in their respective departments within 30 days.

Some of these offices comprise the public works department, Guwahati Municipal Corporation, Guwahati Municipal Development Authority, director of municipal administration and director of higher education for allegedly violating and willfully contravening to provisions of the Section 44 (1) and (2) of the RPwD Act in all of its permissions issued to build structures and further issuing completion certificates without insistence on adherence to the rules framed by the government of India as mandated.

In a letter, a copy of which is with EastMojo, that was furnished to director of higher education in Assam on July 23, 2019, it states that several complaints regarding violation of Section 34 under the RPwD Act that mandates 4% reservation in jobs for persons with disabilities, particularly in recruitment of teachers were reported from many colleges over the past years. It also stated that advertisements for the vacant posts were issued without making provision for reservation of posts for PWDs thereby depriving their Right to Employment as guaranteed by the Act.

The letter further sought a detailed report from the department concerned in order to verify status of recruitment for differently-abled persons in academic positions of state government colleges over the past years in a notified period of time and failing on which a fine of Rs 25, 000 will be imposed as per Section 93 of the RPwD Act with an extended fine of Rs 1,000 for each day in further delay to do the same. The fine might be extended upto Rs 5 lakh, the letter said.

Meanwhile, highlighting the works that are being initiated across the state, another letter (a copy of which is with EastMojo) was issued to the Assam public works department (roads) mentioning that there is a clear mandate on the state to ensure barrier-free built environment and accessibility under Chapter VIII “Duties and Responsibilities of Appropriate Governments” of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and it is mandated to build all public accessible constructions, including, footpath, bus stoppage complying to the mandatory provision of accessibility provided by the RPwD Act.

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Under the RPwD Act, 2016, harmonised guidelines and space standards are set up to enhance barrier-free environment for senior citizens and persons with disabilities making it mandatory to be followed in all public buildings, road and transport facilities as notified by the Ministry of Urban Development Government of India and adhered under Section 40 of the Act.

Adding to that, Section 44 of the RPwD Act further makes it mandatory to observe the accessibility norms in every departmental constructions stating that no establishment, be it private or governmental organisations, shall be granted permission to build any structure if the building plan does not adhere to the rules formulated by the Central Government under Section 40.

It further states that establishment shall be issued a certificate of completion or allowed to take occupation of a building unless it has adhered to the rules formulated by the Central Government as formulated under the RPwD Act.

Earlier on June 19, 2019, an advisory committee comprising of top officials from state government was constituted to monitor the “Awareness Generation Programme on Disabilities and the Rights of persons with Disabilities Act, 2016” by Assam government.

Copy of letter issued by Social Welfare Department of Assam

The advisory committee comprised of top state government officials, including the chief secretary, additional chief secretary, commissioner for persons with disabilities, commissioner to Guwahati Municipal Corporation, director to Assam Directorate of Information and Public Relations and member secretary to Assam State Legal Services Authority.

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