Can the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities be effective if every district gets a disabled rehabilitation centre (DRC)? State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities K.V. Rajanna believes it would.

Recently, the State Government announced the setting up of DRCs in Mysore, Gadag, Haveri and Raichur districts on a pilot basis with the help of Red Cross, to provide comprehensive rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.

While the centre in Gadag has been functional for the last couple of months, those in Haveri and Raichur are expected to start soon. The proposed centre in Mysore is yet to start.

State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities K.V. Rajanna, who visited the Gadag centre recently to check on it, said: “The DRCs will definitely benefit persons with disabilities. They have been left in the lurch and have been denied proper rehabilitation services.”

According to Mr. Rajanna, each centre gets an annual grant of Rs. 24 lakh for its maintenance.

Why DRCs

“Persons with disabilities constitute 1.75 per cent of the State's population as per the 2001 Census. Therefore, there is a need to have more DRCs so that they don't have to struggle for rehabilitation services,” he said.

Reopening DRC

Persons with disabilities had fought for many years for the reopening of the DRC in Mysore. Representatives from the National Federation of the Blind, Karnataka State Physically Challenged Persons Welfare Forum and the Deaf and Dumb Association had demanded that the DRC be opened and run by the State Government from grants set aside for the welfare of persons with disabilities.

The centre was closed in 2006 after grants from the Union Government were stopped.

The office of the Department of Women and Child Development was functioning in the DRC building after the centre was closed. It, however, vacated the building recently following “pressure” from the federation.

After the DRC was closed in Mysore, its staff was transferred to the Department of Women and Child Development.

Each centre needs at least 19 staff members for lending rehabilitation services to the needy. It is not clear whether the same staff would be posted back to the DRC or new members would be appointed.

Mr. Rajanna said the DRCs should have qualified audiologists, special educators and physiotherapists as regular staff.

Specialists

The services of specialists should be available once in a week.

He said the DRCs should conduct camps once in a week in taluk centres to reach out to the needy in rural areas.

“Do you expect a person from a faraway village in north Karnataka or in Hyderabad Karnataka to visit a rehabilitation centre in Bangalore,” he asked.

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