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Goa notifies rules under RPWD Act 2016

Over two years after the RPWD Act came into force, the Goa government has finally issued rules under it. Something the disabled community here has been demanding for a while now.

Relief for the over 30,000 people with disabilities in Goa with the state government finally framing rules under the RPWD Act 2016. This will be called the Goa Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, 2018.. The Act is vital to ensure the protection of disabled people against inequality and discrimination. The delay in notification has meant that critical schemes and facilities meant for the community are yet to reach them.

Avelino D Sa, a well-known activist in the state who heads the Disability Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) welcomed the announcement. "We all are happy that finally the rules have been finally notified after a period of two years. We are now hoping that special courts, public prosecutors and disability commissioner will be appointed very soon."

Another DRAG member Vishant Nagvekar hopes this will lead to a change for the better. "It is a good sign that things will now improve in Goa. I hope that the pending work for the disabled community will now be completed. There is a lot of work that needs to be done such as appointment of deputy commissioner and other officials. "

The RPWD Act states that accessibility is a right for disabled people, whether it is in schools, homes, public places, offices, roads etc. The notification, hope activists, will lead to accessibility getting a push.

More than 20 states have already passed the Act and started the work. From being one of the most accessibility-oriented states, Goa moved to the bottom list by issuing the guidelines after such a long time. Not only that several offices and posts are still vacant and work at the social welfare department is also very slow. The department of social welfare now has a lot to cover up and make up for the time lost. iDare has been pushing the authorities to work towards creating awareness about disability rights. There are laws that need to be strictly implemented to achieve accessibility. New buildings need to be designed with accessibility as a consideration and older ones need to be altered. The lost time can only be compensated if the government commits itself and works round the clock to ensure a speedy and effective implantation of the Act. -Monika S Kshatriya iDare, Initiative for Disability Awareness Rights and Empowerment

According to Monika, the government should also start an awareness campaign about provisions of the Act so the community is made aware of their rights.

Raj Vaidya, also a member of of iDare says the community must now put pressure on the government. "The authorities will now have to push hard to get the work done. Most of the departments are very slow and need to really get going to make this work. We will keep pushing and demanding for the rights of the disabled people in Goa to ensure speedy implementation of the Act," he says.

The RPWD Act can only be effectively implemented once respective state governments form the rules and guidelines to be followed. In absence of which the disabled community cannot get the benefits and facilities that are lawfully theirs.

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