The Accessible India campaign initiated by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) includes a separate vertical in the campaign called Accessible Tourism, which is one of the priorities for the department. In an exclusive interaction with Express TravelWorld, Mukesh Jain, joint secretary, DEPwD, MSJE disclosed that his department is coordinating with the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Archaeological Survey of India, to make the places which are of tourist interest accessible. “We all need to have many meetings in detail about the phase wise development of this initiative. These places are a part of built environment. The transport also needs to be accessible-friendly to get to these locations. We are also working on public transport systems, airports, railways stations, bus depots, etc,” said Jain.
By July 2016, 25 per cent of domestic airports and all international airports will become accessible friendly. “We are working with the Ministry of Civil Aviation to enable this. It is a huge task. We need the support of everyone,” stated Jain. Accessibility of 75 A1 category railway stations in the country will also get completed by July 2016.
The Accessible India campaign has different verticals – the built environment includes making all buildings accessible – from hospitals to schools to tourist landmarks. Interestingly, the department is not selecting those places, it is the state governments, NGOs, and people at large who have been entrusted with the responsibility of identifying 100 buildings in 48 locations across the country. “These buildings will undergo access audits. The state governments will be asked to carry out retro fittings of those buildings, if they do not have the money then it will be provided by the central government. We would collect a list of the most important buildings in the city which would have the largest impact on people with disability,” said Jain, pointing out that while in some cities like Agra or Nashik it may be a building attracting tourists but in some cities it might be a college or a hospital.
The department is also launching an app to collect database of places in the country that are not accessible friendly. “If you are standing in front of a building which if you feel is not accessible friendly, then you can take a photograph or click a video and upload that. This information goes to two places – the concerned state ministry and also our department,” said Jain adding that it will help the department to get people’s preferences in terms of the most important places for them
Source: Express Travelworld