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House panel flags ‘casual approach’ of government over setting up disability centres

Updated - December 14, 2022 07:47 am IST

Published - December 14, 2022 02:33 am IST - New Delhi

It noted that just 55-60 DDRCs had been set up of the target of 269 and that the govt. had been unable to provide proper roadmaps with timelines for the rest

The District Disability Rehabilitation Centre that was inuagurated in May 2021 in Odisha’s Bhadrak district. Photo: Twitter/@DM_Bhadrak  

With just 55-60 District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRC) made functional so far out of the targeted 269 in designated districts, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment has said that it feels the Union Government is “somewhat casual” in its approach to complete this task. 

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It sought that the government lay down a proper roadmap with timelines for the execution of the work needed to establish the DDRCs in every district of the country as targeted. 

However, in a written reply given in Lok Sabha on Tuesday in response to a question from Congress MP T.N. Prathapan, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Pratima Bhoumik said that as of December 8, 269 DDRCs had been “set up” across the country. The reply defined DDRCs set up as ones that have been given “funds at least once”. 

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The committee, in its report on the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, tabled in Lok Sabha on Monday, said it had expected that the revised guidelines for the scheme would correct its “inherent deficiencies” and clear the path for setting up the targeted number of DDRCs. 

“However, the concern expressed by the committee is not likely to get addressed even now after the revision of guidelines, as the department in its latest replies, has still not provided the current status of DDRCs,” the committee said. 

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had told the panel that it had increased the number of disabilities covered from seven to 21 in 2018 and that the revised guidelines for setting up the rest of the DDRCs would be implemented in 2022-23, making it preferable for the centres to be located near district hospitals and intervention centres. 

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But the panel in its report tabled in the Winter Session, noted, “The committee are unable to understand as to how the department would process the proposals received from States/ UTs unless the guidelines are implemented.” It also expressed “strong doubt” about the early implementation of the revised guidelines as promised by the government. 

Moreover, the panel said that the government’s defence of planning to set up model DDRCs for others to emulate “again has set no timelines for preparation of Model DDRCs features”.

Sports training facilities

In addition to this, the committee noted that the government was yet to set up dedicated sports training facilities for persons with disabilities (Divyangjan) and urged the government to pursue this matter “earnestly”. It said that despite the government’s promise of setting up five such facilities in 2014-15, only one had been approved so far at Gwalior which was facing continued delays, other than which, the government has said there are no plans for any other such facilities. 

The committee also asked the government to publicise and make serious efforts to cover as many students as possible under the pre-matriculation, post-matriculation and top class scholarship schemes for persons with disabilities. It noted that in 2021-22, only 16,000 students were paid against 25,000 slots for pre-matric scholarships, adding the number of applicants finally paid was less against the allocated slots for the other two scholarships as well.  

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