Vizag still has a long way to go if it has to catch up on the Accessible India Drive that the Narendra Modi government is on. Eighteen months after its initiation to make public places and transport accessible to those who are wheelchair bound and others; Visakhapatnam is yet to put these measures in place.
After the central government initiated accessibility audit exercises on 1,653 public buildings across 50 cities, the progress is at a snail’s pace with not even half the proposals sent to the centre. ET reports that as per statistics put in by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), out of the buildings audited by access auditors, the state governments have sent in proposals for only 647 buildings.
Visakhapatnam has not even bothered to send in a proposal, the other cities being Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Indore, Itanagar, Imphal, Ludhiana, Panaji, Port Blair, Silvassa, Puducherry and Thiruvananthapuram. Public buildings have to be made accessible for differently abled too through retro-fitting exercises. The accessibility audits will provide pointers as to what needs to be done for the accessibility. The department will release funds for the same after the state government sends in proposals to the DEPwD.
The progress has been slow on release of funds too as they have only been released for 354 buildings in 15 cities so far. The state governments have given lukewarm response to this much-needed initiative. If the Accessible India campaign is to achieve its goal by December 2017 like the central government aims to do so, the pace of progress has to be picked up and that begins only with the state governments sending in proposals in the first place.
The Accessible India campaign also consists of the change of environment in general by making even the public transport accessible. While Visakhapatnam has definitely put up wheelchair ramps at some footpaths in the city, it clearly still has a long way to go.