07 April 2010
By Kumar Manish
This petite 35–year–old woman, Ranjan Vaghela, suffers from permanent visual impairment but her knack for looking beyond boundaries is phenomenal.
Vaghela has fought a lone battle for rights of physically challenged in Anand through Right to Information (RTI) Act. She was in Ahmedabad to participate in an RTI conference recently.
She is a beacon of hope for other physically challenged people who are now taking up RTI as a means to achieve their goals. Vaghela, the daughter of a worker in a crematorium, is the most sought after person among the fellow physically challenged persons seeking guidance in availing the government benefits at her native place. Vaghela had suffered at the hands of officials of Social Welfare Department (SWD), Anand, while procuring a medical disability certificate for getting concession on government buses. The certificate is a crucial document for the physically challenged people to avail the government schemes and facilities.
Vaghela says, “It was a Herculean task to get the certificate from the officials. They always kept on dilly–dallying in issuing the certificate for one reason or other. It is only through the certificate that we get government benefits so important for our survival. But the SWD officials were not interested in our pleas.”
Under Persons with the Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995, the medical boards have been constituted at state, district and taluka levels to assess the percentage and the level of disability. Following this disability certificates are issued to those having disability of 40 per cent and above.