Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh has a unique identity - it is a barrier-free and disabled friendly city. This is because of the efforts of its young district collector, P Narahari, who has made this one of his main focus areas.
To do this, an audit was done of all the public spaces in the city. Officials were encouraged to build ramps and railings within the infrastructure of these places. “Persons with disabilities, senior citizens, women, especially pregnant women, should not face any challenge in accessing public spaces - this has been our primary objective,” Mr. Narahari says.
To inspire government officials into following this mission, the collector held seminars for people associated with railways, bus stands, banks, schools, hospitals and hotels, and asked them to work towards making the city barrier-free.
Mr. Narahari faced some challenges while making this vision a reality. “There are some people who refuse to listen or take time to understand or believe or they think it is a general instruction and they don't need to follow it,” he says. To deal with this attitude, Mr. Narahari send them showcause notices and warned them about fines and punishments applicable if they did not comply. It was only after this was done, that they made changes in schools, colleges and hospitals.
Over the last two years, the administration has managed to make the district 95% barrier-free and all schools have been made 100% barrier-free. It has become an example for the whole country. “Through Satyamev Jayate's episode on persons with disabilities, there was sensitization about the issue,” says Mr. Narahari. “A lot of administrators like me were further sensitized by this show. And I believe that several administrators have now begun work in this field.”