More than two years after Centre passed Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act in December 2016, Punjab has failed to notify rules under the Act, in turn depriving PWDs several rights under the new law. The Centre has asked state governments across the country to notify rules under the Act.
Sources in the Social Security and Sports Department of Punjab revealed that rules have been drafted and the Act translated in Punjabi. “Due to delay in issuing the notification, the district-level committees on disability could not be formed and it is hampering the appointment of the state commissioner, advisory committee of the experts in the disability sector and competent courts to decide that whether a child can be separated from his family in the best interest of the child for PWDs,” said a senior officer in Social Security Department, adding that state fund for PWDs was proposed (amount is not fixed), but could not be implemented as rules under the Act are not notified.
“Expert committee with representation of persons for identification of employment posts reserved for people with disabilities could also not be set up and also state had yet to issue the notification for increasing reservation quota in employment from three to four percent for PWDs,” said Amarjit Singh Anand, expert member, state Divyang Advisory Board.
He added:” PWDs are suffering on several grounds due to delay in the notification of the rules as neither an ‘Equal Opportunity Policy’ has been formed nor a nodal officer been appointed in the District Education Office (DEO) to deal with all matters relating to admission of children with disabilities.” According to Anand, the quantum of assistance in the poverty alleviation schemes was to be increased by 25 percent for PWDs, but that too was under process. He said there is no provision of providing Aadhaar card to bedridden which is basic rights of them.
Anand said that till date Punjab has formulated not state sports policy for special games and there is no cultural policy for the PWDs, which means that outstanding performers in sports at international events are not given any financial aid by the government.
Punjab Sports Minister Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi said that Punjab has sports policy for the disabled and there is no discrimination against them. Director Sports, Punjab, Dr Amrit Kaur Gill, said that recently a new policy has been made under which Special Olympics, Deaf Olympics and other games related to PWDs are included and the policy would be notified soon.
According to Punjab State Disability Commissioner Kumar Rahul, the notification of rules under RPWD Act are under process. While Punjab admits that it is in the process of notifying the rules, across the country some 14 states have done the same.
Meanwhile, PWDs are getting disability certificates and the state has notified five percent reservation in allotment of land and other developmental schemes as per Section 37 of the RPwD Act.