Special social welfare scheme for visually challenged sought

The first-ever public grievances meeting held exclusively for the differently abled at the Coimbatore Collectorate here on Thursday itself gave rise to several grievances.

Despite being held only for the differently abled, the meeting was convened at the first floor of the Collectorate which had no ramp and was not disabled-friendly in any manner.

Many of those present took exception to the absence of top officials at the meeting and staged a protest immediately at the venue, after which the Collector came down and received their petitions.

S.A. Sakariappan, president of the All Differently-Abled Traders Welfare Association, said that initially, the Collectorate staff did not provide them the acknowledgements for the petitions as was usually done for during public grievances meetings.

“This is unacceptable and we took it up strongly with the Collector, who then directed the staff to provide the acknowledgements.”

He also said that all the offices that would be attending to the affairs of differently abled should be moved down to the first floor and none should be made to climb the stairs for meeting Government officials. This had already been done at Chennai where District Differently Abled Welfare Office had been shifted down to the ground floor.

In his petition, he also wanted the district administration to ensure that the differently abled were able to get adequate housing as they were being discriminated against in many areas of the city.

He also wanted the process for issuing National Identity Card for the differently abled to be simplified.

The National Federation of the Blind wanted job opportunities to be created for differently abled in all Government offices.

Its secretary P. Renganathan said that the State Government should announce a special social welfare scheme for the visually challenged living below the poverty line and provide a monthly financial assistance of Rs. 1,500. Further, he also wanted the financial assistance provided to school and college students to be tripled.

Those visually challenged lacking educational qualification should be given grants to set up business ventures.

Some of the petitioners complained that the monthly financial assistance of Rs. 1,000 was being disbursed once in six months with all the payments combined.

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