Accessibility August 16, 2020
Make Ayodhya Ram Temple accessible & disabled-friendly, urge activists
Many Hindu devotees from across the world are looking forward for opening of the Ram Temple. But India’s disabled community point out that like most temples in the country, the temple being planned in Ayodhya is largely inaccessible. They are urging concerned officials to make the world-famous temple accessible and disabled-friendly.
When it comes to accessibility of temples and places of worship, there is no doubt that India still has a long way to go. When Hindu religious leaders across the world celebrated the Ram Janmabhoomi Puja on 5 August, wonder how many thought about the accessibility factor? Indeed, the upcoming Ram Temple at Ayodhya is a celebrated one. There are thousands of worshipers with disabilities who are looking forward to visit the temple soon after its construction is completed. The bad news is that the trust has not taken into account needs of its disabled worshipers. Members from India’s disabled community are looking forward for some positive news from temple trust authorities.
Need for accessibility
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) highlight on need for accessibility in all public places and buildings. This is still a distant dream in most parts of India. For instance, Vaishno Devi temple at Katra or the famous Akshardham in Delhi still remains inaccessible even after decades of construction. The same concerns are now being raised at the Ayodhya Ram Temple as well.
What the disabled community is demanding is not just wheelchair ramps, but accessibility features like Braille, audio facilities and more for people with all kinds of disabilities. The law clearly states that. So why isn’t the temple trust adhering to the rules yet? Being a renowned worship place, tourists from across India, including disabled tourists, are going to throng the place.
Side-lined by mainstream society
Para-sports couple Pradeep Raj and his wife Suvarna Raj who were present for the Ram Janmabhoomi Puja are the first ones to bring the issue to light. Pradeep told The Times of India, “Section 45 requires all public buildings to be made accessible with special focus on essential services. However, there are still many buildings that cannot be accessed by us”. The couple who often visits temples can only go up to a point. They have already written to concerned authorities, but has not yet received a reply.
TMN Deepak, Founder of 3 December Movement that empowers disabled people has also raised the concern about Ram Temple accessibility through his social media. “It is unfortunate that the universal design is not being applied or appreciated. It is important that persons with disabilities have the facilities to access places of worship. We hope the trust will also understand our concern. We are trying to send a mail to the temple trust officials”, he says.
Construction for the temple has already begun. If anything has to be done to promote accessibility, officials have to begin it at the earliest. This is the demand of India’s disabled community as well.
Watch in Sign Language
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