Even as the state government celebrated World Disabled Day, on December 4, Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) has hit out at Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar for recently inaugurating a government building Institute Menezes Braganza, despite it being disabled unfriendly and in violation of Supreme Court guidelines.
Writing a strongly worded letter to the Parrikar, DRAG President Avelino D’Sa said it was a sad reflection of the attitude of the government and the level of ignorance about rights of the disabled.
“We take strong objection to your inaugurating the disabled unfriendly halls of Institute Menezes Braganza in Panjim thus causing grave injustice to persons with disability…. By inaugurating the halls you have approved the action of the management of the Institute Menezes Braganza and this is not acceptable to our Association. Being the Chief Minister of the State you have to ensure that discrimination is not done to any person or section of society,” Avelino D’Sa said.
Under Section 46 of the Persons with Disability Act 1995 all public buildings must be accessible for persons with disability, including wheelchair users. The Goa Building bye laws which were amended in 2005 had also made it mandatory for all public buildings to have access for persons with disability in compliance of Section 46 of the Persons with Disability Act 1995.
“Inspite of that the Institute Menezes Braganza Hall has not complied with the regulations as there is no access for persons with disability by way of ramps or lifts thereby discriminating and causing great injustice to persons with disability as they are not able to enter the halls and enjoy the programmes which will be held in those halls,” D’Sa said.
DRAG has issued a stern ‘warning’ to the chief minister to henceforth not inaugurate any buildings which is in violations of the law and also to ensure that remedial measures are taken by the institute and action taken against those involved in the refurbishing of the building.
Ironically, however, at the inaugural function those who were responsible for the renovation of Institute Menezes Braganza by ignoring the rights of the disabled ~Principal Chief Engineer JJS Rego, Chief Architect and many other PWD officers were instead felicitated by the chief minister who also praised them in his speech.
The stinging letter comes just a day after the state government with much fanfare celebrated World Disabled Day at Atmavishwas School for the Special Children in Tuem in Pernem, where officials waxed eloquent about the services offered to the disabled.
V.M. Paranjape, Director of Social Welfare, Shrimati Manjrekar, ZP Member, Prajakta Kannaik, Sarpanch and Santana Fernandes, Dy Director of Social Welfare attended the function.
At the function, Director of Social Welfare informed that the Government has launched number of schemes which include early identification, intervention, education, vocational training, scholarships to the students, employment opportunities, provision of aids and appliances etc. and told to avail the benefit of these schemes. The director also informed that there is a State Commissioner for disabled persons under Persons with Disability Act to look after any grievances or problems faced by disabled persons. [H]