HYDERABAD: It was only last year that the State’s Welfare of Disabled persons department and the Election Commission boasted of revamping infrastructure in public buildings to make them more user-friendly and accessible to Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) with ramps, railings, etc for the upcoming elections. PwDs are 2 per cent of the State’s population.
However, a year later, a report by the National Statistical Office (NSO) called Persons with Disabilities in India has found that nearly 67.4 per cent of PwDs have difficulty in using public buildings in Telangana. The report also found that among all persons with disabilities, a mere 32 per cent even accessed public buildings in the last 365 days.
The study proves as a true litmus test to tall claims of working for disability rights and accessibility in the State, as the users of the same find them inaccessible.
Not just this, when it comes to PwDs using public transport, only 58 per cent, that is half of the population with disability use the same. Among them, 70.7 per cent of public transport users found it inaccessible and difficult to use.
The research further shows the urban-rural divide in the services offered to theses citizens. While the users of public transport and public buildings was essentially the same in rural and urban quarters of Telangana, the dissatisfaction was higher amongst the rural citizens of the State.
At least 76.6 per cent of rural citizens with disabilities faced difficulties with public transport, and in urban areas those facing difficulties were 60.5 per cent. This is possibly because TSRTC which is the primary public transport provider in the State does not provide any low floor buses to the districts. Infact, almost all services of TSRTC which have ramps —pink metro luxury, airport buses and blue low floor buses — are pushed only for city services. The city also has more options like metro, which is far more disabled friendly and has tactile tiles, announcements, elevators and ramps to support the disabled.
When it comes to public buildings, similarly, the citizens in rural areas face more difficulties with 69.6 per cent, while in urban areas 64 per cent face difficulties.
“Every government building was and is given a stipulated fund to provide add-on facilities for disabled persons, but they only do lip service by building a kacha ramp which won’t even be of a proper inclination. During the election phase itself, several state and district representatives have raised issues with the infrastructure, but nothing has changed,” said N Srinivasulu, chairperson of Network of Persons with Disability Organisation.