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Disabled continue to struggle for access

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Insensitive: Provisions of the Act providing quota for the disabled in jobs are observed more in the breach.
Insensitive: Provisions of the Act providing quota for the disabled in jobs are observed more in the breach.

Laiqh A. Khan

Government job reservation observed more in the breach

BANGALORE: Even as yet another International Day of Persons with Disabilities is being observed on Thursdaythe differently abled continue their struggle for access and rights.

The State Government itself has admitted that the provisions of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995, which inter alia seeks to provide 3 per cent reservation in jobs and education, have been observed more in the breach. The frank admission of a senior official from the Department of Welfare for the Disabled that the State Government has barely met 10 to 15 per cent of the objectives of the Act is a sad reminder of society’s insensitivity to the lives of the estimated 10 lakh people living with various disabilities in the State.

Though the 2001 Census identified a total of 9.4 lakh persons with disabilities out of the total population of 5.27 crore in Karnataka, NGOs engaged in the welfare of disabled prefer to believe it is at least three times higher.

Jayaram, Director of Department of Welfare for the Disabled, said employing persons with disabilities is a major challenge as most are unskilled or semi-skilled.

The annual report 2008-09 of the Office of the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities says only 5,828 disabled people have been hired as village rehabilitation workers under the National Programme for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (NPRPD) Scheme.

According to Javed Abidi, Executive Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, the annual reports of various ministries “lack in basic disability statistics and details of beneficiaries of various schemes”. They are silent on the 3 per cent job reservation also, he adds.

Legal battle

M.K. Sridhar, a Reader in Canara Bank School for Management Studies, Bangalore University, himself a person with disability, pointed out that despite their Constitutional right to 3 per cent of jobs, several differently abled persons were recently forced into a three-year legal battle against the Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC) to secure employment.

“Recently, I flew to New Delhi from Bengaluru International Airport at Devanahalli. Everything was different from the old airport at HAL. Even the equipment to clean the toilets was sophisticated. The only item that had remained unchanged was the old wheelchair. This shows up society’s attitude,” Mr. Sridhar said.

Public offices

R. Guru Rao, whose work for his fellow disabled has earned him an award to be conferred on him on Thursday, said the Government has not bothered to ensure that public offices, including Bangalore One centres, are disabled-friendly. Most of these centres, as well as public libraries in the city on the first floor or higher. Even the Family Court on Siddaiah Road is located on higher floors, he said. There are hardly any ramps in public spaces to facilitate accessibility.

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