Volume 4 Issue 12 - June 15, 2006

New State Policy for disabled in Goa – first in the country

D.N.I.S. News Network The smallest state in India has taken a giant step toward equal rights for disabled people. While the Central Government is dilly-dallying over the announcement of an Incentive Plan to encourage the private sector to employ disabled people, the Goa Government has decided to offer incentives to private sector employers who provide 3 per cent reservation for disabled people, in keeping with the spirit of the Disability Act 1995. Moreover, the policy also ensures that disabled people have equal and easy access to not just all buildings, but also transport facilities.

The new State Policy - the first in the country has come in response to a P.I.L. filed sometime back by two Law students Charmaine Abreu Lobo and Sanford Facho, who had highlighted in their P.I.L. that the State Government was lagging in the implementation of the Disability Act 1995. In its new policy and plan of action submitted to the High Court recently, the Government has committed itself to work for the welfare of disabled people. In the matter of jobs, the policy envisages equal opportunities apart from 3 per cent reservation provided against identified government jobs.

The policy makes it mandatory for all public buildings, transport systems, hospitals and tourist areas to have facilities that provide them easy access. The Government says that facilities like ramps, special seating in buses and toilets will be set up by 2008 and that it has already begun work to ensure the policy translates into action within the said deadline. The Secretary, Social Welfare, has promised that hospitals, educational institutions, university and tourism areas will be made easy access areas.

In an earlier hearing, the Court had asked the Social Welfare Department to conduct access audit of public buildings in the cities.
The Department of Social Welfare had conducted an audit of government buildings, and provided facilities for the disabled people as a result of this order.

The High Court has given three weeks time to Goa Government to chart a course of action and work out the timeframe for implementation of the Disability Act.

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