Separate department sought to address issues
“First implement the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and then celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities,” is the message of the members of the Disability Advocacy Forum to the government.
The forum is a cluster of non-governmental organisations working with people with disabilities across the State.
Among the other demands, the forum members want establishment of a separate department that can address the issues concerning people with disabilities.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on December 3 every year. The celebrations on December 3, 2012, were postponed due to the demise of the former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral. And, now the State government has decided to celebrate it on January 23.
Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, S. Srinivasan, secretary of the Parents’ Association of Persons with Cerebral Palsy and Associated Disorders (PAPCP) said, “Only on International Day of Persons with Disabilities do people make tall promises and say that they will work for the betterment of people with physical disabilities. But later, everybody seems to forget them.”
The State government should take steps to ensure that people with disabilities are provided with education and employment.
He also underlined the need to create awareness among persons with disabilities about the benefits they can get from the government schemes.
Jayashree Ramesh, director of the Academy for Severe Handicaps and Autism (ASHA), said the State government had not been successful in implementing the Act. “There is a need for the government to engage with people with disabilities. This is not the time to celebrate and the government certainly does not have any moral right to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This is the time for the government to introspect and look at what they have done for the welfare of people with disabilities in the past few years.”
Janardhan Reddy, programme manager of the Association of People with Disabilities, said that several people in the State have been denied disabilities pension since 2011. “If the State government does not wake up to our call, we will take this matter to court,” Mr. Reddy said, adding that the State coordination committee on framing policies for persons with disabilities, does not meet regularly.