An attempt by the social justice and empowerment department to felicitate achievers among people with disability backfired on Monday when invitees had to struggle their way up to the auditorium and the stage with no lifts or ramps.
Minister for social justice and employment Arun Chaturvedi, who was the chief guest at the event, was left red-faced with activists accusing the state government of “insensitivity.”
“I had great difficulty in climbing the stairs to the auditorium and my brother had to assist me. The government is completely insensitive to our plight,” said Ramesh Pareek, who had come to the felicitation ceremony.
Chaturvedi later accepted there was a “mistake” on the part of the department and assured to initiate corrective actions.
“It is true that we have committed a mistake by not providing temporary ramps for the disabled. I will make sure that this does not happen in the future,” the minister said. He was addressing the programme called to observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at Ravindra Manch on Monday. The event, celebrated worldwide on December 3, was rescheduled for December 7 due to a prior engagement of the minister, which further angered the disabled.
“The minister promises to bring the disabled to the mainstream and yet fails to provide temporary ramps for us at a state-level function,” said Sudama, an activist for people with disability.
“Chaturvedi allotted one day out of his year’s schedule for us, but even that day had to be shifted due to his commitments. It tells us a lot about the government’s commitment towards the disabled,” said Sudama.
According to Census 2011, Rajasthan has 15,63,694 people with disability, of whom 4,27,364 specifically face mobility impairment, but the state government is yet to frame a policy to make government offices disabled-friendly.
At the function, the minister announced 100 disabled-friendly buildings in Jaipur that would have ramps, special toilets, Braille notice boards and specially designed lifts.
He declared that the scholarship given to disabled students till Class 8 would now be extended up to Class 12 as well.
Activists also criticised the government for awarding paltry sum to the disabled achievers. Seventeen awardees were given Rs 7,500 each for their contribution towards the welfare of the section.