Poll promises overlook disabled
As political parties try to out-do one another in campaigning and promises on “cheap rates for water and electricity”, activists fighting for rights of the disabled said parties still have failed to deliver a “disabled-friendly” city.
“Disability has never received the seriousness it deserves from political parties. It is a matter of shame. When I go to other world capitals, it is so much different. Delhi has to change as a city, whoever is ruling it,” said Javed Abidi, a disabled rights activist and director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People.
“It is a significantly neglected area by the political parties,” he added.
Employment, accessibility to public places and education for the disabled still remain major issues among the disabled community here.
“Earlier, most political parties did not take cognizance of disability issues. Gradually, more and more political parties are touching the issue which is positive,” said A K Mittal, president, All India Confederation of the Blind.
For the visually impaired, more textbooks need to be available in the Braille system and political parties should pay attention to it, said Mittal.
“The other important factor is there needs to be greater support to the NGOs who are working for the differently abled groups in society. There should be some visible evidence to the changes in the city,” he added.
Despite the existence of the Disabilities Act, modern constructions in the city openly violate it, said, activists.
As examples, they mention museums, public buildings, colleges, hospitals, shopping malls and public transport like buses and cabs.
Infrastructure at public places is inadequate with buildings remaining largely inaccessible despite the existence of ramps which are broken at places or inaccessible with dug-up roads.
Abidi said even though Delhi cannot be termed as a “disabled-unfriendly city”, it continues to be a “disabled-hostile” city.
Citing an instance, he added, “Suppose not even one building constructed in South Extension area in the last one year has the infrastructure which is suitable for the disabled. There is a violation of rules despite the existence of the Disability Act.”
Asked if any government has made effort so far to undertake projects which are disabled-friendly, he said the Sheila Dikshit government had taken some initiatives like building Braille guiding blocks in central Delhi and improving the arrangements in the Delhi Metro for the disabled community.
“However, I think this is more so of a personal initiative. Why do the other Congress-ruled states like the same infrastructure?” he added.
A clear blueprint on issues pertaining to disability and allocation of resources to execute the plans is the need of the hour.
With the current attitude of political parties towards the disabled, the community will continue to lose out in terms of educational and employment opportunities even in the future.