Progress of Accessible India Campaign slow: Parl panel


A Parliamentary Standing Committee has said it is “constrained” to note that the progress of the Accessible India Campaign launched for people with disabilities has been “rather slow” and only 494 of the 1,662 identified buildings under the programme have been made accessible since 2015.
The campaign, was launched in 2015, to make transport, public spaces, tourist places, international airports, railway stations and information and communication technology in India differently-able friendly.
The panel also suggested invoking penal provisions as a last resort if timelines are not met under the campaign.
The recommendation was made in the 23rd report of the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment (Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities) on the ‘Assessment of Scheme for Implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016’.
In its report, the panel said despite postponing the initial target of July 2016, several states and UTs still do not have any targets or timelines for making 193 buildings accessible by the extended date of June 2022.
These include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab and Tripura, it noted.
“The committee is constrained to note that the overall progress of the Accessible India Campaign (AIC) or Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan has been rather slow. Only 494 buildings (29.7 per cent) out of a total of 1,662 identified buildings have been made accessible by nine States/UTs and 558 websites (64.61 per cent) out of 917 websites have been made accessible under this abhiyan since its inception in December 2015,” the report said.
The panel said it is also not satisfied with the pace of work of the Railway Ministry which is lagging behind in making model railway stations or providing facilities for people with disabilities (PwDs).
“Similarly, the progress in other transportation sector i.E. Airports and road transport is discouraging as mostly partial accessibility has been ensured. The committee also finds that penal provisions under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act exist. However those have not been invoked in the cases where performance of States/UTs and ministries is not satisfactory and instead, target dates are being extended continuously,” it said
The panel recommended that the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPD) should adhere to deadlines and vigorously pursue with States, UTs and ministries to meet targets.
“The committee also recommends invoking of penal provisions, in case timelines are not met, as a last resort, in the interest of Divyangjan (PwDs),” it said.
It noted that the Railway Ministry was not able to provide an update on model accessible railway stations as directed in the AIC review meeting in December 2019 to make the New Delhi Railway Station a model station by January, 2020.
“First of all, the committee desires to know the current position on this aspect. Further, the committee has also been informed that the update on accessibility guidelines, model accessible railways stations, action taken report on findings of verification audit of selected railway stations are also awaited from them, which is quite disappointing and unworthy of a seasoned and gigantic ministry like the railways,” the panel said.
The committee has recommended that the DEPD should seek reasons for non-compliance by the Railway Ministry and take up the matter at the ministerial level so that work is completed.
The Ministry should also be made aware of the penal provisions, the committee said. (PTI)