Delhi hotels & restaurants directed to become disabled-friendly as per RPWD Act
T D Dhariyal, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Delhi government, has made it clear that all hotels and restaurants must become disabled-friendly as per the guidelines spelt out by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.
Follow the law, else prepare to pay the penalty. This strong message to hotels and restaurants comes from T D Dhariyal, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Government of Delhi, comes after a week-long hearing into accessibility facilities for disabled people.
Barrier-free access in the national capital is a distant reality. Barring some five-star hotels, few abide by the Harmonised Guidelines of the Ministry of Urban Development. These are notified by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.
Hotels to become disabled-friendly by June 2022
The Act says all public buildings in Delhi must abide by these guidelines. It has set a deadline of June 2022. However, most hotels and restaurants are not even aware of them. Enforcement has been poor too. One reason for that is the lack of uniformity in the guidelines. The Ministry of Tourism itself does not reflect the norms set down in the Harmonised Guidelines.
It will be desirable that Ministry of Tourism puts together the relevant provisions/requirements/measurement and designs for various facilities in the hotels and restaurants.. by extracting the same from the Harmonised Guidelines… Appropriate directives should be issued to every hotel and restaurant owner to ensure compliance. – T D Dhariyal, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Government of Delhi
Special courts to try cases of non-compliance
Hotels found not complying will be tried under Special Courts set up to try violations of the RPWD Act.
Lawyers for the hotels put forth various arguments during the hearing. Advocate Rakesh Bhattacharya, representing Taco Bell, argued that it is the mall’s responsibility to ensure accessibility as the restaurant is located inside the mall. Mr Dhariyal was firm in his response. “It is the responsibility of the service provider to ensure accessibility to persons with disabilities irrespective of whether the owner of the mall does it or not. The owners/operators of the restaurants have the option to shift to a place which is accessible”.
Follow up report within 3 months
Some heritage restaurants want to be excluded as structural changes can damage their premises. They can put forth their cause with civic authorities. The order directs all hotels to provide menus in Braille, large fonts and in accessible format for print disabled people.