Fact Check: Has Accessibility for PwDs improved in the last four years?

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Another infographic of the government makes certain claims about the Accessible India Campaign. How many of these claims are true?

Making claims about accessibility in India, the government has published an infographic on the 48 months website. The information provided makes claims about the interventions and achievements in terms of making India more accessible for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). Here is a fact check of the four claims made in the following infographic.

Accessibility for PwDs_infographics

What is the Accessible India campaign?
The Prime Minister launched Accessible India Campaign (AIC) in December 2015, for creating universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in Built Environment, Transport, and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem. The campaign is based on the principles of the Social Model of Disability, that disability is caused by the way society is organized, and not the person’s limitations and impairments. The Campaign’s vision is to build an inclusive society in which equal opportunities are provided for the growth and development of PwDs so that they can lead productive, safe and dignified lives.

Have government buildings been made accessible?
The first claim of the government is that they are converting at least 50% of all the government buildings in the national capital and all state capitals ‘fully accessible’. According to the annual report of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the phase II target of the accessible India mission is ‘making 50% of all the government buildings of NCT and all the State capitals fully accessible by December 2018.’  According to the same report, this target is to be reached and implemented by the state governments with their own funds.

According to the answer provided in the Lok Sabha in March 2018, of the central government buildings, 75 central government buildings were identified by the CPWD (Central Public Works Department) in 39 cities of which, retrofitting in 58 buildings in 27 cities have been completed. 123 buildings have been identified for phase II  (to be completed by July 2018) and 21 more for phase III (to be completed by July 2019). These numbers do not necessarily add up to 50% of all government buildings in the National Capital Territory (NCT) and in all state capitals since the number of government buildings in not known.

Claim: Converting at least 50% of all the government buildings in the national capital and all state capitals fully accessible.

Fact: 58 out of the 75 selected central government buildings in 39 cities have been retrofitted as of March 2018. Since the claim is talking about a future target and not an achievement, it remains UNVERIFIED

What is the Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan?
The second claim is that the Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan has been launched by the government on 3rd December 2015 to provide dignity to Divyangs. This is the same as the accessible India campaign described above.

Claim: Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan has been launched by the government on 3rd December 2015 to provide dignity to divyangs.

Fact: Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan is the same as the accessible India campaign. Hence, the claim is TRUE.

How have aids and assistive devices been distributed?
The third claim is that special camps have been organized for distribution of aids and assistive devices to 8 lakh persons with disabilities. The DEPwD is implementing different schemes. The Scheme of Assistance to Disabled Persons for purchase/fitting of aids/appliances (ADIP) is responsible for the distribution of aids and assistive devices. Special camps are conducted based on the proposals received from Members of Parliament and other dignitaries under ADIP Scheme. According to the annual report (2017-18) of the DEPwD, 275 Mega Camps/Special Camps were organized covering 27 States for distribution of aids and assistive devices under the ADIP Scheme at the cost of about Rs.237.67 crore reaching  3.01 lakh beneficiaries.  However, under ADIP Scheme in general,  approximately 9.35 lakh beneficiaries were provided aids & assistive devices through 6073 camps during the last 4 years.  Even during the UPA government, an average of 2.5 lakh beneficiaries per year were provided with aids & assistive devices under the ADIP as per an answer in the Lok Sabha.

Claim: Special camps have been organized for distribution of aids and assistive devices to 8 lakh persons with disabilities.

Fact: 275 Mega Camps/Special Camps were organized benefitting 3.01 lakh Divyangjans during the last four years. The total number of beneficiaries of the ADIP program in the last four years is more than 9 lakh, but the number of beneficiaries of special camps is only 3.01 lakh. Hence, the claim is FALSE. It also has to be noted that the average number of beneficiaries per year under this scheme during the UPA was also around 2.5 lakh, which has not changed during the current government.

How many access audits have been conducted?
The final claim is that access audit of 1662 important buildings in 50 cities has been completed till date. The manner & form of an audit report can be understood from one such report submitted for the accessible India campaign. The report says that, ‘Access Audit has been undertaken to appraise defined areas of the existing buildings/campus to access the extent of accessibility to services and facilities and propose the extent of works required to improve the current facilities in accordance with the definitions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The audit takes into account the needs of people with mobility impairments (including wheelchair users) and sensory impairments. The audit will identify physical barriers to access against pre-determined criteria.’ The audit report details the availability of various things like ramps etc. It also has recommendations to be implemented to make the building accessible.

According to the annual report (2017-18) of the DEPwD,  1662 access audit reports were submitted to the State Nodal Officers. Corroborating this is the answer provided in the Lok Sabha, which says that ‘access audits of 1662 buildings in 50 cities completed by auditors’.

Claim: Access audit of 1662 important buildings in 50 cities has been completed till date.

Fact: Access audits of 1662 buildings in 50 cities completed by auditors. Hence, the claim is TRUE.

This story is part of a larger series on the 4-years of the Modi government. This series has been made possible with the flash grant of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Read the rest of the stories in this series here.

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