In the midst of the fabulous growth story of Gujarat, where the malls, swanky roads, high rise buildings and booming economy always dominate stories, there are a certain group who feel left out from the benefits of such infrastructure.
These people are the disabled who are vulnerable and face great hardships every day. In Baroda, I was informed by the various NGO’s from whom, I had previously worked for, who said the government haven’t really done much for them, infact they felt the government has even taken away a few privileges the disabled had in their favour. In one case, the Gujarat government has in principal given 4% of Government jobs of Class III and IV posts which are reserved for the physically handicapped persons, but in our investigation, when we went to check some government offices, we saw only one handicapped person in the office who was sitting isolated from the rest of the office. Mr Hardik who is a handicap, works in the office as the sole handicapped worker said “. The officers here show the names of former handicap employees who worked here to claim that the 4% of the quota has been filled and hence no new handicap person can be employed. It is a sad state of affairs, how could they deny jobs to handicap by presenting the 4% quota to be filled? We are vulnerable people; we cannot really fight against this all the time.”
In terms of Public transport, the situation is worse. The Gujarat State Transport Corporation (GSTRC) has given 100% concession to the blind and their escorts in State buses. Other categories of disabled are also provided 100% concession and 50% concession to their escorts along with special seats reserved for them, but the ground reality is that no GSTRC bus had any special seats reserved for them, handicap travelers even complained that the concession wasn’t really given to them by the conductors and claimed that they even threaten to throw them out if they didn’t pay up the full rates. In Cities, very few malls have created special steps and staircase for the disabled to enter the building without problems despite a rule by the Government.
The question now is, will the government help create special infrastructure and bring strict check to the existing laws to help the disabled?