D.N.I.S. News Network- Greater employment opportunities, rehabilitation and early intervention are some of the highlights of the recently announced State Disability Policy (S.D.P.) of Goa. With this, the state has stolen the march over Chhattisgarh, which also is currently finalising its own policy, to become the first state in India to announce a disability policy.
The S.D.P. was announced by Director of Social Welfare N. D. Agrawal in the presence of State Social Welfare Minister Subhash Shirodkar and Secretary Social Welfare Santosh Vaidya, at a day-long seminar held at the International Centre, Dona Paula. Goa has 15,749 persons with disabilities as per census 2001, which accounts for only 1.16 per cent of the state. However, according to the estimates of the disability sector, at least 5-6 per cent of the states’ population is bound to be affected by disability.
The policy also focuses on education, rehabilitation services, and ensuring three per cent reservation in the government as mandated in the Disability Act, 1995.
Speaking at the seminar, the Minister stressed on the need to create awareness about the various Government Welfare Schemes and programmes for the benefit of disabled people. He also called upon Non Governmental Organisations to take active part in the implementation of the S.D.P. so that the state emerges as a model state for others.
The policy recognises disabled people as an important resource for the state and seeks to create an environment to provide them with equal opportunities. It further states that employment in private sector will be encouraged by development of appropriate skill to increase the employability of disabled people. The State Government will also provide financial assistance to the disabled people to encourage self-employment.
The policy also speaks of emphasis on creation of barrier-free environment at public buildings and transportation system. Secretary Social Welfare Vaidya said that government has conducted access audit of important government buildings and facilities were being created there. The government accepted most of the 421 recommendations of the audit committee. Funds to the tune of Rs. 1.2 crore were made available to modify public places and make them disabled friendly and large chunk of the funds have been utilised, he added.