Making claims about accessibility in India, the government has published an infographic on the 48 months website. The information provided makes claims about the interventions and achievements in terms of making India more accessible for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). Here is a fact check of the four claims made in the following infographic.
What is the Accessible India campaign?
The Prime Minister launched the Accessible India Campaign (AIC) in December 2015 to create universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in the Built Environment, Transport, and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem. The campaign is based on the principles of the Social Model of Disability, that disability is caused by the way society is organised, and not the person’s limitations and impairments. The campaign’s vision is to build an inclusive society in which equal opportunities are provided for the growth and development of PwDs so that they can lead productive, safe and dignified lives.
Have government buildings been made accessible?
The first claim of the government is that they are converting at least 50 per cent of all the government buildings in the national capital and all state capitals to “fully accessible”. According to the annual report of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the Phase II target of the Accessible India mission is “making 50% of all the government buildings of NCT and all the State capitals fully accessible by December 2018”. According to the same report, this target is to be reached and implemented by state governments with their own funds.
According to the answer provided in the Lok Sabha in March 2018, of the central government buildings, 75 central government buildings were identified by the Central Public Works Department in 39 cities of which retrofitting in 58 buildings in 27 cities has been completed. 123 buildings have been identified for Phase II (to be completed by July 2018) and 21 more for Phase III (to be completed by July 2019). These numbers do not necessarily add up to 50 per cent of all government buildings in the National Capital Territory and in all state capitals since the number of government buildings is not known.
CLAIM: Converting at least 50 per cent of all the government buildings in the national capital and all state capitals to fully accessible.
FACT: 58 out of the 75 selected central government buildings in 39 cities have been retrofitted as of March 2018. Since the claim is talking about a future target and not an achievement, it remains UNVERIFIED.
What is the Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan?
The second claim is that the Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan has been launched by the government on December 3, 2015 to provide dignity to “divyangs”. This is the same as the Accessible India campaign described above.
CLAIM: Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan has been launched by the government on December 3, 2015 to provide dignity to divyangs.
FACT: The claim is TRUE.
How have aids and assistive devices been distributed?
The third claim is that special camps have been organised for the distribution of aids and assistive devices to 8 lakh persons with disabilities. The DEPwD is implementing different schemes. The Scheme of Assistance to Disabled Persons for purchase/fitting of aids and appliances (ADIP) is responsible for the distribution of aids and assistive devices. Special camps are conducted based on proposals received from Members of Parliament and other dignitaries under the ADIP scheme. According to the annual report (2017-18) of the DEPwD, 275 mega camps/special camps were organised covering 27 states for the distribution of aids and assistive devices under the ADIP scheme at the cost of about ₹237.67 crore reaching 3.01 lakh beneficiaries.
However, under ADIP scheme in general, approximately 9.35 lakh beneficiaries were provided with aids and assistive devices through 6,073 camps during the last four years. Even during the UPA government, an average of 2.5 lakh beneficiaries per year was provided with aids and assistive devices under the ADIP as per an answer in the Lok Sabha.
CLAIM: Special camps have been organised for distribution of aids and assistive devices to 8 lakh persons with disabilities.
FACT: The total number of beneficiaries of the ADIP program in the last four years is more than 9 lakh, but the number of beneficiaries of special camps is only 3.01 lakh. Hence, the claim is FALSE. It also has to be noted that the average number of beneficiaries per year under this scheme during the UPA was also around 2.5 lakh, which has not changed during the current government.
How many access audits have been conducted?
The final claim is that access audit of 1,662 important buildings in 50 cities has been completed till date. The manner and form of an audit report can be understood from one such report submitted for the accessible India campaign. The report says: “Access Audit has been undertaken to appraise defined areas of the existing buildings/campus to access the extent of accessibility to services and facilities and propose the extent of works required to improve the current facilities in accordance with the definitions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The audit takes into account the needs of people with mobility impairments (including wheelchair users) and sensory impairments. The audit will identify physical barriers to access against pre-determined criteria.”
The audit report details the availability of various things like ramps, etc. It also has recommendations to be implemented to make the building accessible.
CLAIM: Access audit of 1,662 important buildings in 50 cities has been completed till date.
FACT: The claim is TRUE.