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Updated: August 31, 2010 10:48 IST

Persons with disabilities seek answers to ‘difficult questions'

Shankar Bennur
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Physically disabled persons in Karnataka are raising their voices, demanding better schemes and barrier-free access. File photo
The Hindu Physically disabled persons in Karnataka are raising their voices, demanding better schemes and barrier-free access. File photo

Are there enough facilities for people with disabilities in place? Are disabled persons getting opportunities to be self reliant?

The answers to these questions and a few others will be clear when K.V. Rajanna, commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, a government body, conducts a review of steps taken by various departments for the benefit of the disabled.

Mr. Rajanna is expected to check if provisions of the Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of. Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, are being implemented in letter and spirit and if government departments are utilising three per cent of their funds for the welfare of the disabled.

He will meet the heads of nearly 34 departments on September 4 to discuss their “contribution” to the welfare of the disabled. Director of the Savitri and Mysore Deputy Commissioner Harsh Gupta will be present at the meet. Persons with disabilities are awaiting the commissioner's visit in September to get “suitable answers” to their “difficult questions”.

‘Disabled-unfriendly'

State convener of the Karnataka State Disabled Welfare Forum and Mysore vice-president of the National Federation of the Blind, Siddaraju maintains that nearly 70 government offices are “disabled-unfriendly”. No action had been taken to provide ramps there despite innumerable appeals, he said.

“The funds set aside for the welfare of the disabled in each department have not been utilised effectively. Facilities have been denied to them despite existing provisions,” he told The Hindu.

Mr. Siddaraju, who is a visually challenged, said that although ramps had been built in some departments, they did not comply with guidelines.

The disabled could not access them easily, he alleged.

He said the District Rehabilitation Centre (DRC) for people with disabilities should be reopened and the office of the Deputy Director for Women and Child Development be shifted from the DRC building in Mysore. “The DRC was set up in 1986 and it functioned well till 2006. But, it was closed when the funds stopped. People with disabilities have been left in the lurch and expensive equipment procured to train them is gathering dust.

"Steps should be taken to reopen the centre soon for the welfare of visually challenged and hearing impaired persons,” he demanded.

The Mysore City Corporation and the zilla panchayat could jointly run the DRC, Mr. Siddaraju suggested.

A letter in this regard has been sent to the Deputy Commissioner, he said.

Ramps at bus-stand

Besides, Mr. Siddaraju said, the divisional controller of KSRTC Mysore had also been asked to provide a ramp in the subway or ensure a safe access path for the disabled to move from one platform to another. The concrete finishing for the bus paths was extremely smooth, causing people to slip and fall while crossing. “If normal people are falling, what will the plight of the disabled be?” he said.

Meanwhile, sources in the KSRTC claimed that disabled-friendly toilets had been constructed. They argued that persons with disabilities could use the concrete connections between platforms instead of demanding a ramp at the subway.

The State Disabled Welfare Forum has also sought bus numbers and a route chart in Braille on each platform at the city bus-stand.

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