Asia-Pacific, Built Environment, Universal Design, August 16 2019
INDIA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked for introduction of a mobile application to help the disabled facing difficulty in accessing means of transport and government buildings upload pictures of their experiences. He has also asked officials to be “compassionate” towards the cause and to accelerate the implementation of the Accessible India Campaign (AIC).
These directions were passed at the review of the AIC at a meeting of the multi-purpose and multi-modal platform PRAGATI (ProActive Governance And Timely Implementation) held by the PM on July 31, as per the minutes reviewed by ET. “Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) should explore possibility to develop an app on which divyangjans (disabled) facing problems can upload picture with details. DEPwD, states and UTs and concerned ministries and departments should implement the scheme compassionately. Ministries and states should also construct adequate unisex accessible toilets for divyangjan,” the minutes say.
Getting direct feedback on the app from the disabled could help the government intervene immediately and make the building in question accessible at the earliest, said a senior government official. There have been cases where the disabled have uploaded such pictures on social media. The government had launched the AIC in 2015 for achieving universal accessibility for persons with disabilities, with a target of 2022 for all existing public buildings in the country to be made accessible for the disabled. The PM now wants the programme to be expedited. “DEPwD and states/UTs should expedite retrofitting of all identified central and state government buildings,” the PM said at the July 31 meeting, according to the minutes.
As per details available with ET, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has completed retrofitting of accessible features in 811 central government buildings so far across India while the access audit of another 1,662 identified buildings in 50 cities has been completed. The Centre has released Rs 308 crore to states for making 1,000 such buildings accessible. The PM reiterated in the July 31 meeting that transport systems and central and state government websites should be made accessible for the disabled. All 34 international and 48 domestic airports in the country now have accessibility features such as ramps, toilets and lifts with Braille symbols while 1,131 railway stations have been provided with accessibility features. However, only about 9 per cent of public buses have been made accessible so far. Among the central government buildings, 165 buildings in Delhi have been retrofitted by CPWD, followed by 91 in Maharashtra, 62 in Madhya Pradesh, 52 in Rajasthan and 49 in West Bengal.
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