NEW DELHI: The Centre’s Bharat Abhiyan is running behind schedule. It has a target of making 25-50 government buildings each in the national and state capitals, and important cities “fully accessible” for the disabled by July next year.
According to Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment data, of the total 35 states and Union Territories in the country, only Daman and Diu has succeeded in making 20 government buildings disabled-friendly. Although all states and Union Territories have identified buildings that are to be made disabled-friendly, audit of buildings in 10 states is yet to be completed. These states are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Manipur, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
The New Indian Express, which accessed the government data, also learnt that of the total states and UTs, 11 are yet to send even the cost estimate of renovation of these buildings to the ministry. The states and UTs, which are lagging behind, are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Puducherry, Tripura, and West Bengal.
The Centre has so far released Rs 84.32 crore to 13 states to make required changes in 385 buildings. Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand are some of states that have begun receiving funds.
In November, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Centre for not doing enough to make government buildings disabled-friendly in the national and state capitals. The apex court had also observed that the department concerned had not done anything about this.
In the recent Monsoon Session, minister of state for social justice and empowerment Krishan Lal Gurjar had told the Rajya Sabha that 644 railway stations had been made accessible for the disabled. There are around 7,500 railway stations in the country and 664 of them have been made disabled-friendly so far.