For the first time since the launch of the Smart City Mission four years ago, the Centre has stressed on making a blueprint on how a smart city should look like from a differently-abled person’s point of view.
The Modi Government on Tuesday asked the States to ensure integrating disabled-friendly measures in various projects being implemented in the smart cities under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project.
Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs, reminded the project managers that integrating divyang-friendly measures in various projects being implemented in the Smart Cities in the country is required at the initial project planning stage to ensure that cities are accessible to all.
He was speaking at an interactive session on “Divyang Friendly Measures and Policy Recommendations for Smart Cities in India” here on Tuesday. He said that in conjunction with the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), the Smart Cities Mission seeks to ensure that the most vulnerable sections of the society enjoy ‘Ease of Living’ in Indian cities.
The workshop, organised by the National Institute of Urban Affairs, had participation from the persons with disability sector from different walks of life and eminent citizens and experts, including several international sports personalities.
Addressing the participants, Puri said that the feedback emanating from such stakeholders’ interactions will be sent to the CEOs and project managers of the Smart Cities to be incorporated in their plans. He said that these measures will improve the “ease of living” for those who lacked accessibility to all facilities.
Lamenting that India particularly lacks data on disability, Puri said that “we will be looking at 25% of the population that will need universal accessibility in order to live independently and with dignity,” and asserted that the Disability Act of 1995 also mandated accessibility for PwDs. He pointed out that the “Clause 40-48 of the VIIIth Chapter of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 also mandates making all buildings, services and products accessible giving definite timelines for implementation and retrofitting.”
The Minister was categorical in saying that “the standards exist, legislation is in place, thus we now have no reason to ignore this very urgent issue of accessibility any longer.” He outlined that according to the United Nations, a mere 1% additional cost is incurred for incorporating universal design and accessibility in the design and planning stage itself.