National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) in partnership with Varanasi Smart City Ltd (VSCL) organised a city stakeholder consultation in Varanasi to create a collaborative and participatory roadmap towards the vision of Sugamya Kashi (Inclusive Varanasi) in New Delhi.
The consultation aimed to engage with the relevant city stakeholders and apprise them of the progress of the Building Accessible Safe Inclusive Indian Cities programme and ongoing city engagement activities being implemented in Varanasi on disability inclusion. The UK Aid funded case study research being led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) was also discussed. The effort was to also sensitize the stakeholders and mainstream the dialogue on disability inclusion across policy and project interventions and facilitating technical assistance to the city beyond the BASIIC programme timeline. The consultation was a joint endeavour of Varanasi Smart City Limited (VSCL) and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), and its partner the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub), London.
It was attended by key nodal officials from various government agencies in the city including – Varanasi Nagar Nigam, Development Authority, Town and Country Planning Department, Department of Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities, Tourism Department, Road Safety and Traffic Department, Smart City SPV, Private Organizations, Academic Institutions, Disabled Peoples’ Organizations, Community & Citizens to collectively discuss and engage on transforming Varanasi as inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities.
Sh. Pranay Ku. Singh, CEO, Varanasi Smart City Ltd. and Municipal Commissioner, Varanasi Nagar Nigam, expressed that the concept of “Inclusion”, which is multidimensional that encompasses persons with disabilities, gender and demographic diversity should be integrated into the future action plan for Varanasi city development.
Members of the civil society appreciated the efforts in making Kashi more inclusive. They also emphasized on removing intangible barriers – attitudes and perceptions. The consultation was also graced by members from the PwD community. While they were pleased with the continued dialogue in mainstreaming disability inclusion, a need was expressed to make ghats, public buildings, and transport more accessible for persons with disabilities.