Wednesday, 29 March 2017 | PNS | BHUBANESWAR | in Bhubaneswar

City does not mean only signboards. The State Government would not lag behind and do everything possible to make the city accessible, be it information, communication, transport and the digital inclusion, said Additional Chief Secretary and Development Commissioner R Balakrishna at the Bhubaneswar Urban Lectures on  “Smart Accessibility Solutions In Bhubaneswar” on Tuesday organised by the BDA, BMC, BSCL, Swabhiman and Mphasis

Balkrishna said infrastructure, communication, information should be accessible to People with Disabilities (PWD) and they should be made inclusive in all policies. There are still lots of gaps to be filled. There are people in the system who create problems. One has to walk the extra mile to achieve the goals.

BDA Vice-Chairman and Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL) MD Kishan Kumar said, “There will be a paradigm shift on how we look into the issue. All the aspects would be looked into but transportation will be a big challenge. City design of Bhubaneswar will be changed and the business street of Janpath will be made more accessible initially.”

Not only the buildings, streets, schools , colleges, even the theatres, cinema halls ,restaurants and shopping malls should be made assessable for all, be it  children, the elderly , the PWDs or even the common people. Everybody will be included and focus will be laid on smart accessibility, digital inclusion and universal design to make the city inclusive. The State Government will provide all support, Kumar said. However, he expressed concern over the digital divide.

BSCL CEO R Vineel Krishna delivering the welcome address said, “Making the city more smart and accessible is a priority. We want to create a model city, with the urbanism principles that have the transformative potential to provide citizens with prosperity, safety and equity.

Global Chair DPI’s Javed Abidi said politicians never took disability seriously till 199, when the Disability Act was passed. Now the laws are there but implementation is a challenge. Digital accessibility is still a problem. Hundreds of websites are there but the visually challenged and other PWDs cannot access them. These problems should be addressed.  Swabhiman chief executive Sruti Mohapatra and Global Strategy and Development (G3IT) vice president James Thurston and Barrier Break Technologies Shilpi Kapoor also spoke.

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