Thursday, May 16, 2013

Maulana Azad Medical College wakes up finally, starts constructing ramps

It was a typical hot June afternoon and I was standing outside the administrative block of Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC), New Delhi. I had gone there to renew my Delhi Medical Council (DMC) registration number. The DMC  is also in the administrative block of MAMC. My problem was two innocuously looking steps at the entrance. These two steps without side support or railing may be a nightmare for persons with disabilities. Please find below the photograph clicked on the same day. Climbing can become a herculean task if a person is wearing assistive device since he cannot flex the leg (like myself). I tried to maneuver to take support from the adjacent wall but the distance was more. Sweating out for 10 minutes, I was looking out for help but the guard was not there. Finally, he came and I asked for support of his hand. Rome was won!
Entrance of MAMC as on 13 June 2012

In 2008, University of Delhi in association with SAMARTHYAM launched a project "Accessible University of Delhi" to make all colleges disabled friendly. The audit of MAMC took place on March 2008 and detailed report is available here. The report also mentions about the changes to the entrance as shown below:

However, nothing happened on this front. This building is important one with Dean's office, departments, medical education department, Delhi Medical Council and many other important offices. After coming back, I wrote an email to Dean MAMC, Registrar MAMC, NTTC, and DMC. There was no reply, and I got failure notice from Dean MAMC ID. I called the Dean office and took the personal email of Dean, Dr AK Aggarwal. The similar mail was sent and there was no response either.

Later on, on the eve of World Disability Day, I sent a hard copy to Secretary, DMC to look into the grievance of inaccessible DMC and MAMC entrance. Again there was no response. The problem of inaccessible medical institutions to persons with disabilities including students, faculty, nonteaching staff, patients, and attendants is not only the hall mark of Delhi but all over India. I then wrote to Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities to include mandatory ‘access audits’ in all the medical inspections of Medical Council of India (MCI).

May 2013: Construction of ramp at MAMC
O/o CCPD wrote to MCI to submit an action taken report in a month. MCI did not respond and CCPD then wrote a strong letter as reminder. Finally, MCI vide No.MCI-34(1)(UG)(Gen.)/2012-Med./167890 dated 29th March 2013 wrote to Principals/Deans of all the medical institutions in India, citing my letter (which included example of MAMC as inaccessible) to comply and submit action taken report directly to Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The whole story is covered here.

Within weeks after this letter, MAMC woke up and as shown below in the pictures, have started constructing ramp at the administrative block and other places. 

The section 46 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 mandates barrier-free access to all public places. Also, Article 9 of the Convention (UNCRPD) enables persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life. 

The law mentions clearly to provide reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities but as common in India, we need to keep reminding peoples what our rights are.

The hindi daily 'Hindustan' covering the news

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