Allahabad University student leaders blind, deaf to issue of making campus disabled-friendly
While Allahabad University's student leaders have come forward to back a physically handicapped student of JK institute, to an extent that a mob assaulted faculty members of the institute, none of these student leaders have taken up the issue of building ramps on the campus or providing other amenities for the physically challenged students studying at AU.
Among thousands of students pursuing various courses at Allahabad University, there are 125-odd students with disabilities who have risen above their physical handicap to receive education at AU. These students are not only hurt by repeated incidences of assault on the teachers and subsequent disturbance in studies, but also feel neglected because their issues are seldom taken up the student leaders.
On the eve of the International Day of Disabled Persons on Monday, TOI spoke to some physically challenged students pursuing various courses at AU, and discovered that negotiating the campus is a challenge for most. Among other problems, unavailability of ramps at different departments and offices poses hindrance to smooth functioning of these students. Take the case of Santosh (name changed), who after passing BA from CMP Degree College is pursuing MA in AU. "Things are fine with me as study is the prime aim for students like me coming to AU. But since my class is on the first floor, it makes things a bit harder. Same is the case with most offices of AU or central and departmental library," he added.
Several departments of the AU are built on several levels and difficult for handicapped students to negotiate. Same is the case with the central library wherein the reading hall for the undergraduate and postgraduate students is at the first floor and since the architecture of the library follows the old style, the first floor is a bit higher as compared to modern buildings.
"Indeed this is a genuine problem and should be given some thought. The library authorities are ready to make special arrangements for the differently-abled students of AU, like making them sit on the ground floor itself, if someone among them comes and puts forward the demand," said the library authorities.
Moreover, all the departments, barring JK and Centre of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, do not have the provision of ramps. The situation is same, be it the stairs of the office of the dean student welfare (DSW), which is visited by every handicapped student of AU. "We are very much concerned about the problems being faced by the differently-abled students and would surely find a solution," said the dean student welfare, Prof R K Singh.
But although the optimistic DSW wants to help the students, things have not been attended to for the past many years and the differently-abled students have to manage things by themselves. Even the AU V-C had asked the authorities to construct the facilities for physically handicapped students. Moreover, the district administration had come forward in providing monetary help to varsity administration which would be given under Government of India's scheme, SIPDA. The letter of the district administration has asked the varsity administration to prepare a budget proposal for providing these facilities on the campus and the needed funds would be provided to AU under SIPDA scheme. Among the facilities, varsity would be given money for constructing ramps in public building, adaptation of toilet for wheel chair users, Braille symbols and auditory singles in elevators or lifts etc.
Although the letter did mention that once the varsity authorities prepare the proposal and submit the same with district administration, the needed funds would be released, nothing concrete has been done. This, despite the fact that it has been over six months since the said letter landed in the campus.
"We feel cheated that the same student leaders, who have so forcefully raised the issue of Aftab Alam, the handicapped student of JK Institute, have neglected us," said a differently-abled student of the campus. Are these leaders concerned about welfare of all the students or do they only want to gain popularity by raising selective issues, he questioned.