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Accessible India

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  7 Dec 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Union Fince minister Arun Jaitley has hit the il on the head when he said how difficult it is to imagine the courage differently-abled people have to muster to make a place for themselves in society. India, after all, has not been a country known for sensitivity in making life easier and more dignified for those with disabilities. Governments in the country have shown little commitment to improve their lot through ebling legislation and effective measures on the ground. Things now promise to change for the better with the launching of the Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan, a tionwide campaign to make public buildings fully accessible to people with disabilities. Launching this campaign on Saturday, Jaitley rightly said that such accessibility to all infrastructure and activities should be a developmental parameter. In the first phase, 50 percent of all government buildings in the tiol capital and state capitals have been targeted by July 2018. Deadlines have also been set to make airports and railway stations, government-owned public transport, public documents, web portals and mobile apps accessible to the disabled. Calling for a change in the way society thinks about people with disabilities, Prime Minister rendra Modi has pushed for the proposed smart cities to have provisions for full accessibility. As part of this campaign, eight cities from the Northeast — Guwahati, Shillong, Itagar, Imphal, Aizawl, Kohima, Agartala and Gangtok are preparing audit reports to check if important government buildings meet the required disability-friendly standards. Based on the access audit reports, the process will begin to convert such buildings into fully-accessible ones by July 2019. Barrier-free access has long been a dream for disabled persons, and it is now high time for the government to put on centre-stage the mission to make this dream a reality. All talk of making India at least a middle-developed country by 2030 will remain hollow if the differently-abled are kept out of the picture.

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