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Most disabled not aware of their rights

A report shows that only about 22 per cent of the total physically challenged people are in possession of the prescribed disabilities certificates and a large proportion of them are not even aware of their entitlements. Soumyajit Pattnaik reports.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2009 23:51 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik

A report shows that only about 22 per cent of the total physically challenged people are in possession of the prescribed disabilities certificates and a large proportion of them are not even aware of their entitlements.

The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) report said that 100 per cent registration of all persons of disabilities is a must because it would ensure early detection as well as appropriate remedial actions to ameliorate the hardships of the physically challenged and ensure that their entitlements are generally available to all who need them.

The ARC in its Twelfth Report has said, “Even though the National Policy for Persons for Disabilities states that government will ensure that persons with disabilities obtain the required certificate without any difficulty in the shortest possible time by adoption of simple, transparent and client friendly procedure, this has not been achieved in reality”.

The Commission has noted that the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is in the process of incorporating a new rule under ‘The Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995’ to provide that such disability certificates should be issued within one week of receipt of application. The Commission has further recommended that wherever possible, efforts must be made to issue such certificates on the spot. “Organization of camps at the Primary Health Centre (PHC)/village level, as was done in some forest districts of Orissa at the initiative of a District Collector, would greatly help in ensuring this”, the ARC has said.

In this regard, the ARC has also commended an initiative called the “Window of Hope” launched by the Mayurbhanj district administration in Orissa. ARC said, “The Mayurbhanj District Administration in Orissa realized that from the point of view of Differentially Abled Persons (DAPs), service delivery is extremely complex, costly and time taking. The district administration launched an initiative called ‘Window of Hope’ which offers a single window system with decentralization of service delivery at the block level and re-engineering of complex government processes to suit the needs of the DAPs”. All facilities are provided free of cost at a ‘camp’ site to attract the poorest of the poor.

Recommending solutions, the ARC has said, “This (registration) could be done by giving the responsibility to the Primary Health Centres (PHC) to identify all such cases in their jurisdiction and to get the evaluation of the disabilities done. It should also be mandated that Anganwadi Workers, and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) should report cases of suspected disability to the concerned PHC. Thereafter, it should be the responsibility of the Medical Officer of the PHC to examine the case and if it is within his/her competence, issue the disability certificate. In case, an opinion of a specialist is required he/she should consult the District Medical Officer and arrange for the same”.

This would require government to adopt a proactive approach for detection and registration of the physically challenged persons. This would also require placing adequate resources at the disposal of the PHC medical officer, delegation of commensurate authority and changes in the relevant rules for this purpose. Simultaneously, steps should be taken to create a database for all the disabilities certificate holders with integration at district, state and national levels.