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Restaurants exempted from installing disabled toilets in draft National Building Code


It’s on the list of 14 other public place categories that may be exempted in the  ongoing revision of the National Building Code (NBC).

It will be mandatory for all airports and railway stations to have toilets accessible to the disabled. However, this is not mandatory for 14 other kinds of public places including office buildings, cinemas, convention halls, theatres, art galleries, libraries, museums, hotels, restaurants, schools and educational institutions as per the ongoing update of the National Building Code (NBC).

The NBC sectional committee of the Bureau of Indian Standards is undertaking a comprehensive revision of the NBC and the draft of different parts of the code are on the website for feedback from the public with the last section open for comments up to December 24. NBC regulates all construction activity, providing a model code or guidelines for all agencies, government or private, involved in building construction.


The disability sector has been demanding that every part of the code be reviewed keeping accessibility in mind. “NBC was last revised in 2005. So, now it is happening after a decade. And, this time also if we make compromises or take shortcuts, lakhs and lakhs of more buildings would get constructed in the next 3 to 5 years alone that would be not just inaccessible but hostile to India’s disabled population. They would remain hostage, confined within their homes, an invisible minority,” said Javed Abidi of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP).

Sanjay Pant, director, civil engineering of BIS, in a letter to the NCPEDP, argued that Part 3 of the NBC ‘Development Control Rules and General Building Requirements’ was also being revised and that this part contained provisions relating to barrier-free environment with the objective of universal accessibility.

NBC is being revised after a decade. And, this time also if we make compromises or take shortcuts, lakhs and lakhs of more buildings would get constructed that would be not just inaccessible but hostile to India’s disabled population.

“Saying that the whole NBC cannot be reviewed in the light of accessibility and that we ought to restrict our remarks to the disability section is not acceptable. Every part relevant to accessibility has to be revised. While some section about brick design or cement in concrete ratio might have nothing to do with disability, even sections, which, on the face of it, seem unrelated, can be crucial. For instance, the section dealing with toilets in airports but none in most other public places comes up in the part dealing with plumbing. You need to go deep into this part, to the section dealing with toilet specifications, to find that toilets are not specified for most public places. That’s why we need a comprehensive review,” explained Abidi.

NCPEDP has pointed out that in the 2005 revision, guidelines on how to incorporate disability specific standards in NBC were relegated to an annexure in Part 3 titled ‘Special requirements for planning of public buildings meant for the use of differently abled’. “This gave the impression that the recommendation of the annexure could be overlooked in buildings not meant for the specific use of people with disabilities. The result of relegating accessibility features to a flimsy annexure is there for all to see in the lakhs of inaccessible buildings that have come up in the last 10 years,” said Abidi.

“I think that there is no such thing as codes for able bodied people and that for people with disabilities. Being a strong proponent of universal design, I urge you to develop codes that are non-segregative and work for both,” wrote Prof. Abir Mullick, vice chancellor and provost of Navrachana, a private university in Baroda, to BIS. Prof Mullick, an architect who was involved in developing the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) code for accessibility in the US also offered his services in revising the entire building codes through the lens of universal design.

Source: Times of India

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