With its deadline of June 2022 almost up, the status of targets under the Accessible India Campaign (AIC) was likely to be discussed during a meeting of the Central Advisory Board on Disability later this month, according to Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry sources.
A board was likely to assess the progress made by States so far and the possibility of an extension, an official of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) said. Another official said the meeting of the board was scheduled for June 24.
The campaign, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 3, 2015, aimed at making a proportion of government buildings, transport and websites accessible for persons with disabilities (PwD) by deadlines in 2017, 2018 and 2019. However, the deadline was extended to March 2020 and then again to June 2022, according to replies by the Ministry in Parliament.
The DEPwD had written to chief secretaries of all States and Union Territories recently asking about the progress made on the various targets and received a reply only from Tamil Nadu as of this week, the department official said. Tamil Nadu had asked for an extension of a year to complete the targets, the official added. Another reminder would be sent to the States soon and the replies would be presented before the board, the official said. Incidentally, the board, which is chaired by the Social Justice Minister and is required to meet once every six months by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, has not had a meeting since November 2020. The official attributed the delay to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a reply by the Ministry in the Rajya Sabha in February, 48.5% of State and UT government buildings had been made accessible, almost at the target of 50%. Progress on public transport was less, with only 8.73% of buses fully accessible as against the target of 25%. All 35 international airports were accessible and all A and B category railway stations too, the data showed.
During meetings with States on November 10 and 11, 2021, the DEPwD had “raised concerns about the slow pace of implementation of AIC and emphasized on the need of concrete changes in the ecosystem of public infrastructure to make it accessible for Divyangjan,” the minutes of the meeting read.