The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu state government to take steps and make all tourist destinations accessible for persons with disabilities under the accessibility standards under section 40 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
The bench of Justices R Mahadevan and J Sathya Narayana Prasad remarked Accessible tourism is integral for equal participation of persons with disabilities in the recreational and cultural life of other persons. It also applies to senior citizens and elderly persons to experience and participate fully in their older years, reports livelaw.
It, therefore, directed the State to devise a program in consultation with expert bodies to make tourist destinations accessible for everyone.
This court directs the Government to devise a programme in consultation with expert bodies, which includes persons with disabilities, to make tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu accessible for persons with disabilities under the RPwD Act and other applicable guidelines; and prepare and publish a travel guide of disability-friendly and accessible tourist destinations.
The court was hearing a petition filed by KR Raja, who is disabled. He submitted that he could not access the Coutrallam Waterfall, which prompted him to file the present petition so that persons like him who suffer from some form of disability could experience nature’s bounty like any other person.
The petitioner submitted that as per Section 26 of the RPwD Act, the government and local authorities have to take measures to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities to have a cultural life and to participate in recreational activities equally with others.
The State submitted that Government would make all efforts to make tourist destinations accessible. As part of the same, recently, the Government commenced the work for a permanent pathway for people with disabilities at Marina beach.
The court also pointed out examples from the State of Kerala, where the Government is taking steps to transform tourist destinations and accommodation units accessible.