A parliamentary panel has recommended revamping existing schemes for persons with disabilities and formulation of new ones to cover more homeless and destitute PWDs. The Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment in a report said, “Though there exists a national policy for persons with disabilities (PWDs) since 2006, a large population is not aware of it and the benefit likely to accrue to them due to this policy.”
It has recommended that the Department of Empowerment of Persons in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment formulate a national policy for PWDs on the lines of the National Policy for Older Persons.
“The Committee feels that the National Policy for PWDs has not been given wide and enough publicity so that PWDs could avail its benefits. The three schemes operated by the National Trust namely Vikas, Samarth and Gharunda have no visible impact and expenditure under these schemes is negligible.
“The Committee thus urges the department not only to revamp these schemes and make them effective and result- oriented, but also formulate more schemes and programmes to cover more homeless and destitute PWDs.”
The panel took a serious view of only four states — Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — having separate departments to look after the welfare of PWDs, while in the rest, it is either being looked after by the Commissioner or officers having an additional charge.
It drew the attention of the department to Article 41 of the Constitution which provides that “the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development make effective provision for securing the right to work, education and public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want”.
“In spite of this constitutional provision, many of the state governments/UTs are not having separate department of disability for proper implementation of schemes made for the welfare of such people which shows apathy on part of the state governments toward the welfare of PWDs which constitute more than 2.21 per cent of total population,” it said.
“No country or society can ever progress ignoring the needs and aspirations of more than 2.70 crore persons with disabilities,” it said and appealed to the department to impress upon the state governments and UT administrations to have separate disability department to address the concerns, problems of the differently-abled.