The Kerala Federation of the Blind has urged the State government to provide greater support to persons who are physically challenged in order to bring them to the mainstream of society.

Speaking at a press conference here on Wednesday, federation vice-president K.J. Varghese and general secretary R. Sasidharan Pillai pointed out that the issues pertaining to the hardships faced by the physically challenged in the State were currently being handled by the Department for Social Welfare. However, the fact that the section comprises nearly three per cent of the State's total population has made it necessary for the creation of a separate department. Notably, many other States had followed suit following the implementation of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, in the country.

The federation also urged the authorities to consider an increase in pension amount being provided by the State government. They said the current amount of Rs.300 did not suffice. Moreover, despite an increase in the pension to Rs.400 that had been declared in the State Budget, the government was yet to implement the it.

While the governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka currently provided a pension of Rs.1,000 each, that of Puducherry disburses an amount of Rs.1,750 each every month. It was against this backdrop that the federation had urged the State government to disburse Rs.1,000 as pension for the physically challenged.

The other demands of the federation include a special recruitment drive for filling the existing backlog in appointments to various posts through the Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC); free education for physically-challenged students in schools and colleges; and an increase in commission for the visually-challenged agents of the State lottery.

State conference

These demands would be put forth in the resolution that would be passed at the upcoming State conference of the federation and would be submitted to the State government.

The 44th State conference is being organised here on February 11 and 12. Former Supreme Court judge K.T. Thomas will inaugurate the conference. Later, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) vice-president V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai will inaugurate a seminar on “The Persons with Disabilities Act and UNCRPD (United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).”

A public meeting that will be held on the same day will be inaugurated by Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is expected to inaugurate a delegates' meet on the second day of the event.

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