Panaji, October 14, 2017 … A one-day conference to discuss issues of accessibility within the Smart City Panaji Mission was recently organised in Panaji, by the State Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities, Government of Goa, in collaboration with National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Persons with Disabilities (NCPEDP).
The focus of the conference was discussing the requirements and parameters for smart cities to become truly inclusive and accessible to the differently-abled and exploring ways to draw the convergence between the Smart Cities Mission and Accessible India Campaign for which Panaji has been selected.
Anuradha Joshi, the State Commissioner for persons with disabilities emphasised on the importance of inclusive planning as she welcomed the gathering. The conference was attended by key decision-makers and departments.
Commissioner, Corporation of the City, Panaji, Shri Ajit Roy said that it was time to sit and derive solutions with regards to issues affecting accessibility. He said that stakeholders and authorities should have clearly defined roles and efforts should be coordinated.
Chief Town Planner, Town and Country Planning, Dr S T Puttaraju said that disabilities are not just those inabilities that one has from birth. It can arise at different stages in a person’s life. He spoke of how the definition can sometimes be broadened to include the elderly population as well.
He spoke of how cities that have already been planned without considering issues of accessibility should be required to have a retrofitting for accessibility. He said that we should not just concentrate on smart cities for accessibility but other cities as well. He said that even if agencies and authorities work on policies that are implemented for the benefit of making spaces accessible, the success of the whole endeavour also depends on how people receive it and at times that could require some amount of educating people on this need in order to effect a change in mindsets.
Experts from the field of planning highlighted the importance and parameters of a barrier free city. Shri Ravi Koulag of CISCO spoke on smart city focus areas for accessibility, citizen engagement, urban mobility and safety, smart parking solutions, bringing government services closer to citizens, among other points. He said that most urban services are getting enabled by technology and the data which is collated helps to enable agencies and administration in their decisions towards addressing issues around accessibility.
Representatives from government departments, Shri Avelino D’ Sa, the president of the Disabilities Rights Association of Goa (DRAG), and Shri Lokesh Lohiya of CISCO among others were those present on the occasion.