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India'a Tourism Ministry Mandates All Hotels Classified Between One and
 Five Stars to Facilitate Basic Access and Stay for Disabled People
By Nandini R Iyer, Hindustan Times, New DelhiMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

August 6, 2009 - NEW DELHI -- Come September 2010, a disabled person will be able to check into any hotel classified between One and Five Stars with relative ease.

The Tourism Ministry has revised guidelines for hotel classification making it mandatory for all classes of hotels to facilitate basic access and stay for disabled people. In addition, some more facilities have been made mandatory for Three, Four and Five Star hotels.

All hotels higher than ground plus two floors will have to have a 24x7 lift and where local laws do not permit this, establishments will have to provide "easy access for differently abled guests," say the new guidelines.

Each hotel classified between One and Five Stars will have to have at least one room for disabled guests. These rooms will have to have a minimum door width of one metre for wheelchair access, low height furniture, low peephole, cupboards with sliding doors and low clothes hanging rods. The guidelines require that such rooms have audible and visible (blinking lights) alarm systems. Compliance is mandatory by September 1 next year.

A most basic facility, which India's disabled community has been fighting for -- ramps with anti-slip floors -- are also mandatory now.

The ministry has insisted that in Five Star and Five Star Deluxe hospitals there must be free access to all public areas and at least one restaurant. These two categories of hotels will also have to provide at least one telephone for public calls at a height of two feet.

All hotels have been told to provide wheelchair-friendly bathrooms with "suitable fixtures like low wash basin, low height toilet and grab bars". Public restrooms will have to have low height urinals in all hotels.

All hotels will need to have wheelchairs available to disabled guests free of charge and provide "exclusively earmarked parking facilities nearest to the entrance for disabled guests".

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To see more of the Hindustan Times or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.hindustantimes.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

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