Thursday, July 16, 2015

No State Policy on Disability in the Capital even after 20 years of PwD Act

Delhi lacks policy to look after disabled

Manash Pratim Gohain,TNN | Jul 12, 2015

NEW DELHI: Nearly 2% of the population of Delhi falls in the persons with disability category. However, 20 years after passing of the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, there is no state policy on disability in place in the national capital. 

The Act was notified by the Delhi government in 2001, but successive governments have done little beyond that. While it took three years to just constitute the State Coordination Committee and State Executive Committee—to be reconstituted every three years—RTI replies have revealed that no meetings of the committees had taken place since 2012. 

This sorry state of affairs was highlighted even by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in 2014 and yet, barring the process of reconstitution of SCC and SEC being initiated, no action has been taken even by the new government in office since February. 

According to Section 13 of Disabilities Act, every state government shall, by notification, constitute SCC and SEC. Going by census 2011, Delhi has a population of 2.35 lakh disabled people. "This figure is underreported. The real number is likely to be around 2%," said Dr Satendra Singh, coordinator, enabling unit, University College of Medical Sciences. It is Singh who had filed the RTI. 

Even today there is no comprehensive state policy on disability. Chhattisgarh was the first state in the country to have formulated a state policy in 2006, while the latest is Kerala in 2014. The CAG audit of the department of social welfare, the nodal office for implementation of the Act, has highlighted that the department did not conduct any independent door-to-door survey to create a comprehensive database of disabled residing in Delhi and "it did not develop the state disability policy to address the issues of persons with disability". 

CAG reported that "government buildings and public spaces lacked facilities for disabled" and "Asha Kiran Complex, meant for mentally challenged persons, is over-burdened with 970 inmates against its capacity of 350; it has only 215 caring staff against a requirement of 502". "Though SCC and SEC were supposed to have met 20 and 40 times, respectively, they have met just five times. There has been no meeting since 2012, as seen in the replies," Singh said. 

The latest RTI application revealed that the AAP government has initiated the process of reconstitution of both SCC and SEC, but there are no record available on advice given by the government on formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects related to disability. Sandeep Kumar, minister for social welfare, could not be contacted. 

"The new government has a four-point disability agenda but no task force to implement this has been formed. I brought this to the notice of Delhi Dialogue Commission," Singh said.

Source: Times of India, 12 July 2015

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