Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday stressed on the need for integrating differently abled (divyang)-friendly measures in various projects being implemented in Smart Cities in India.

Speaking at an interactive session for Smart Cities in India, he said this is required at the initial project planning stage to ensure that cities become divyang-friendly, accessible and inclusive.

Puri 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 society enjoy ‘Ease of Living’ in Indian cities. The workshop, organised by the National Institute of Urban Affairs, had participation by differently abled persons from different walks of life and eminent citizens and experts, including several international sports personalities.

The minister said 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 these measures will improve the “ease of living” for those who lacked access to all facilities.

Lamenting that India particularly lacks data on disability, Puri said “we will be looking at 25% of the population that will need universal accessibility in order to live independently and with dignity.”

He asserted that the Disability Act of 1995 also mandated accessibility for persons with disabilities. 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”.