Accessibility January 1, 2020
Centre extends Accessible India Campaign deadline to March 2020
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The Accessible India Campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 promised disabled-friendly public places, transportation and accessible information technology. Many of the targets set remain unmet more than four years later and now a new deadline has been set.
The Accessible India campaign was launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the year 2015. But the campaign has not seen light till date. Modi came to power for a second term. Disability rights groups, over the past years, have been raising concerns over the campaign not being implemented. The central government has set a new deadline for the campaign which is March 2020. But members from the disabled community are clearly not happy with this latest announcement.
Access to all
According to the ‘Accessible India Campaign’, all the public places, websites, buildings and transport facilities will be made disabled friendly. Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot had earlier claimed that the government needs some more time to implement the campaign to the fullest.
TMN Deepak, founder of 3 December Movement in Tamil Nadu states that the ‘Accessible India Campaign’ is going to be merely confined to papers.
The government of India must come up with clear cut laws. Even the RPWD Act, 2016 has not been implemented yet. The Supreme Court of India and High Courts will give condemnations. But the market is more powerful than law. Politics takes over everything else. Here, there is no rule of law. So, I’am clearly not in a mood to believe this campaign. Our groups had worked closely with former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s party to make all public places accessible in the year 2012. Now, in 2019, nothing has changed. – TMN Deepak, Founder, 3 December
Implementing the ‘Accessible India Campaign’
The ‘Accessible India Campaign’ will be implemented in three broad categories. The first one will be accessibility in public transport that includes rail, air and road transport facilities. The second one will be making all public buildings accessible. The third category focuses on making information and technology accessible. This includes websites and even television viewing.
The central and state governments had collaborated to take a report on how accessible public places are for disabled people. The reports show poor results. But nothing substantial has been done till date.
Smita Sadasivam, Member, Disability Rights Alliance in Chennai believes that the best is yet to come. “I hope the government takes this three month period as a prioritized challenge and execute the campaign without fail. The most important thing is to make public transport used by the common man accessible. This has not happened despite PIL’s being filed in Supreme Court and even Madras High Court”, she says. According to Smita, making public transport a priority is most important. “20.97% of buses having some sort of accessibility is just an absurd statement made by concerned departments. Universal design is one in which every passenger is able to use it irrespective of any difference. It needs to be holistic. One cannot just point to the grab bars and say that it is accessible”.
The government has already missed the target by three years. Come March 2020, and disabled people across India are hoping for the best.
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