The disabled community in Goa and particularly in the capital city has found it difficult to go about with their day to day activities with reserved parking as well as seats in buses going to the general public. Accessibility to basic government buildings in the city is also a task
Last week, members of the Disabled Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) protested their plight in the state with accessibility problems to buildings and public transport. Panjim is no different. Whether it’s the capital city or a remote village, their issues are the same, maybe even worse.
Take for example parking at several spots marked for the disabled. Recently, outside the Social Welfare Department, a spot marked for the disabled was used by a vehicle from the Corporation of the City of Panjim (CCP). Though Panjim suffers from a constant traffic problem, the disabled too feel left out.
DRAG president, Avelino de Sa says this behavior isn’t only for parking spaces but in buses and government buildings too. “The community is constantly side lined when it comes to availing of public services. In public as well as private buses there are mandatory seats marked for the disabled, but very often they are never used by those for whom it is marked,” he said.
The Supreme Court had, five years ago issued an order that made it mandatory for buildings to be disabled friendly and the government had agreed to meet the deadline. But with the deadline of March 2015, the group has now issued a contempt of court on not meeting the requirements.
De Sa says government buildings in the city itself are not disabled friendly. “The classic case is of the Institute Menezes Braganza hall that has no ramp for access to the top floor where many events happen,” he said.
The social welfare department too being the nodal agency in implementing schemes and benefit programs for the disabled has a building that has questioned the friendliness of the community.
In the past Sharmshakti Bhavan has also been in the news for being non-accessible to the disabled.
In a letter to the Chief Minister, the State Election Officer M Modassir and State Disability Commissioner Manoj Kumar, DRAG had said that the government, including mamlatdars and deputy collectors were harassing persons with disabilities by posting them on election duty despite guidelines from the Election Commission of India not to post persons with disability on election duty and being fully aware that they will not be able to do justice to their jobs due to the lack of disabled friendly infrastructure.