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Disabled people in parts of Goa can look forward to wheelchair accessible transport on voting day

On 23 April, voters in all two constituencies in Goa will head to the polling booths to exercise their choice in the Lok Sabha elections. For the first time, disabled voters in some parts of the state will be provided free accessible transport from their homes to the polling booths and back.

The transport will be provided by the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Goa in partnership with EzyMov, India's first wheelchair accessible taxi service.

We are pleased to offer our wheelchair taxi service on election day for our differently-abled brethren. I am sure this facility will encourage them to exercise their franchise as a responsible and equal citizen of our country. The areas we are covering are Panjim, Caranzalem and St Inez as we have only a single vehicle there. The Goa CEO has made a list of registered disabled voters, particularly para and quadriplegic voters, so we will be strictly following the list given to us by the CEO Goa. - Bennett D'Cunha, Co-founder, EzyMov

The facility will enable more voters to come out of their homes and cast their votes, said Avelino de Sa, president, Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG).

"Many people on wheelchairs are unable to come to polling booths as they don't have accessible vehicles or people to take them there. So, this service will surely enable more voters to exercise their franchise, said de Sa. "Whether the facilities are accessible or not, disabled voters in Goa always participate enthusiastically in the electoral process and this service will enable them for sure.

Vishant Nagvekar, disability rights activist, praised the move as well. "It's good initiative by the CEO Goa. Besides wheelchairs have also been procured by them for accessibility of elderly citizens and disabled people. I congratulate the CEO office for such arrangements".

Booth level officers have a list of voters with disabilities ready and between 50-65 completely immobile voters have been identified so far, adds D'Cunha. The service is also available for elderly people and they can contact their respective booth level officers or DRAG. Call this number of the DRAG office for help if needed - 9971820420.

Meanwhile, in other news also from Goa, in a unique exercise in South Goa, 3,263 people with disabilities have been identified by district authorities as "most valued voters" when they come to vote tomorrow, with provisions made for ramp and wheelchair facilities at all the 810 polling stations across South Goa to help people with locomotor disabilities. Speaking to the media, South Goa Collector Ajit Roy said that two volunteers will be stationed at every polling booth and in booths with no wheelchair ramps, extra volunteers will be provided.

ALSO READ:People with disabilities must consider issues not propaganda - Dr B S Patil & Monika S Kshatriya

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