CHENNAI: Various organisations working with the physically and mentally challenged persons in the city on Friday resolved to form a single national-level organisation to press for their demands.
The decision followed an interaction between representatives of the organisations and Kanti Ganguli, West Bengal Minister of Sundarban Affairs and General Secretary of the Association for the Handicapped in West Bengal.
The Minister urged them to form an umbrella body to represent their problems. The interaction was organised by the All India Confederation of Organisations for Persons with Mental Disability.
Citing the benefits of such a body, Mr.Ganguli said the Association for the Handicapped had been able to empower the disabled by unifying various non-government organisations working with disabled people.
Despite being part of the government, it made a lot of efforts to ensure that the system came to the help of the disabled, he said. Though the social welfare department was willing to provide health certificate, doctors were not willing to participate in block-level camps. As a result, health certificates could not be issued.
While the 2001 census puts the population of people with disability at three per cent, the Rehabilitation Council of India says it is 6 to 7 per cent, he said. Since not more than 15 per cent have the required health certificate, over 80 per cent of the disabled persons in the country do not receive the benefits due to them.
It is important for the Central Government to put in place a mechanism whereby doctors would have to attend block-level medical camps to provide a health certificate. The Government could appoint retired doctors on contract for a year for the purpose, he said.
Though the ‘education for all’ programme was laudable, the objective of inclusive education could not be achieved unless all children with disability are educated, he said. Citing the success of the association’s employment generation programme in Kolkata, the Minister said the only way to provide livelihood for the mentally challenged was to ensure that every one of them was able to do whatever job they were capable of.
“In our rehabilitation programme we have made the project profitable with government support and by obtaining bank loans,” he said.
The Association, with over 1.20 lakh members, runs a number of projects, including pharmacies, offset printing and binding and garment units, he said.