With an aim to ramp up accessibility and inclusiveness of Varanasi city, the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) along with Varanasi Smart City Ltd (VSCL) organized a city stakeholder consultation to fillip the creation of a collaborative and participatory roadmap towards the vision of Sugamya Kashi— Inclusive Varanasi.
The consultation was aimed at engaging with the relevant city stakeholders in order to boost the progress of the ‘Building Accessible Safe Inclusive Indian Cities programme’ along with the ongoing city engagement activities implemented in Varanasi on disability inclusion.
The role of Global Disability Innovation Hub
A case study research being led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) was also discussed at the consultation.
GDI Hub is a research and practice centre, which works in the domain of driving disability innovation for a fairer world. The hub presently operates in over 35 countries and has reached 21 million people since its launch in 2016.
Furthermore, efforts were also being made to sensitize the stakeholders and mainstream the discussion on disability inclusion across policy and project interventions, which will pave way for technical assistance to Varanasi.
The consultation was the synergetic endeavor between Varanasi Smart City Limited (VSCL) and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), and its partner the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub), London.
Rejuvenation of Oldest Living City
During the consultation, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs Mr. Hitesh Vaidya deliberated on the unique character of the “oldest living city” (Varanasi) and its aspiration towards an “Inclusive Innovation Plan.”
He further emphasized on the imperativeness of accessibility and inclusion for the city in its endeavors of rejuvenation of ghats, heritage sites, temples, riverfronts, and other water bodies to become a global spiritual and cultural destination.
Chief General Manager of Varanasi Smart City Ltd. Dr. D. Vasudevan emphasized on the need for solutions and innovations that are contextual and tailor-made to the characteristics of the city.
He also mentioned the role of smart projects in the pipeline, with technical assistance from the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), which will be planed, designed, and implemented along with a special focus on making them accessible and inclusive for persons with disabilities.
Besides, key nodal officials from various government agencies, the event was also graced by the Minister Counsellor of UK government, Ms. Katy Budge, who completed the city audit assessment study (jointly conducted by NIUA and the GDIH team).