Beneficiaries complain of lack of coordination at camp

Utter confusion and chaos prevailed for several hours at the assessment camp for disabilities at District Government Wenlock Hospital on Friday. It was co-organised by the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped (IPH), New Delhi and Wenlock Hospital, under the Assistance to Disabled Persons (ADIP) scheme. Several people The Hindu spoke to said they were going back as it was unclear what they had to do.

The hospital’s physiotherapy unit, the camp venue, was crammed with persons with disabilities and their relatives. The corridors overflowed with people, officials were shouting instructions and at the registration desk, a volunteer stood on a chair directing people. At 12.30 p.m., two police constables also arrived to control the crowd. Many people complained there was no clarity on what they should do. Calistus D’Sa, Principal, Roman and Catherine Lobo School for the Blind, Mangalore, who had accompanied 28 visually impaired children, said he was “totally dissatisfied” with the way the camp was organised.

He said they had waited for four hours with no drinking water and toilet facilities. “We have been treated worse than animals here. People speak of barrier-free facilities for challenged people. But here, the place is full of walls, pillars and pits,” he said. Bi Fathima, a single mother who rolls beedis for a living, has impaired hearing. She said, “Nobody is telling me what to do. I am leaving as my two small children are at home.”

‘Challenging’

A teacher from Surathkal Government School had come with a girl who is paralysed, whose father is a construction worker. She said, “They told us to get photocopies. But of what, they did not say.” She said many were told to go to the first floor but that was difficult for challenged persons. G. Pandian, Officer-in-Charge, Department of Disability Office, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped (IPH) denied any chaos. “People don’t understand systems. They don’t have patience, they want attention immediately,” he said.

Dr. Pandian said the camp was held once in three years. The team consists of 12 experts including four orthopaedics, two hearing specialists, four for artificial limbs and two secretarial assistants. One therapist said all the persons with disabilities had disability certificates but simply wanted their category to be upgraded (to become eligible for more government help). She said, “They are here only because they get free of cost aids.” A.B. Ibrahim, Deputy Commissioner, Dakshina Kannada, who visited the camp, said, “The doctors’ team from Hyderabad arrived late. It (the confusion) will settle down soon.”

Sources said that the event organisation had been miserable as local authorities had not made adequate arrangements. District Surgeon and Medical Superintendent H.R. Rajeshwari, Government Wenlock Hospital, said the camp will be held at a different venue next time.

350 patients to get aid

Of the 774 patients registered at the camp, 350 patients will get aids and appliances costing Rs. 20 lakh to Rs. 25 lakh. The rest need medical intervention, said G. Pandian, Officer-in-Charge, Department of Disability Office, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped (IPH), speaking at a press meet in the city on Friday after the camp ended.

The aids will be distributed free of cost within two to three months as they have to be customised and fabricated. Beneficiaries will have to assemble at a preordained place to get the aid. Doorstep fitting of the appliance was not possible as it required adjustments to be done by a technician, he said.

The beneficiaries are eligible if their income does not exceed Rs. 10,000 per month. Dr. Pandian said the camp could be extended for more days if the district administration requested the team.

On the spot disability certificates were also distributed to around 500 people.

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