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Mumbai: Study finds 1.3% disabled people in M East ward

The NGO, Apnalaya, surveyed 9,972 people in 2,137 households in the ward between July 2019 and January 2020. The NGO, which closely works with slum residents in M-East, had filed an RTI application to get numbers on disabled residents in 2016.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Updated: December 3, 2020 8:01:12 am
Even as suburban trains are not open for the general public, the railways has made an exception for the disabled to access train services.

A study conducted by an NGO claims to have found that the government numbers on disability are significantly underreported in the M-East ward covering Shivaji Nagar, Mankhurd, Govandi and Anushakti Nagar area. According to government data, only 0.2 per cent are disabled in the ward but the NGO’s study found that at least 1.3 per cent were disabled across all age groups.

The NGO, Apnalaya, surveyed 9,972 people in 2,137 households in the ward between July 2019 and January 2020. The NGO, which closely works with slum residents in M-East, had filed an RTI application to get numbers on disabled residents in 2016.

Across Mumbai, government data shows there are 30,388 people with disability, which is 0.24 per cent of the population. The latest findings in the survey indicate that several persons with disability may be unidentified and out of government schemes.

Dr Arun Kumar, CEO of Apnalaya, said the findings showed how only some have disability certificates and were able to access government schemes meant for them. “The process of obtaining a disability certificate must be made easier. Since the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act was enacted in 2016, there has been an improvement in government welfare schemes, but the measures need to be aligned with different services,” he said.

Mumbai has only eight hospitals that can issue disability certificates. “We need more hospitals authorised for this purpose,” Kumar added.

The study also found that people living in slums had a higher prevalence of disability and lack of access to services: 14.56 per cent in slums had functional disability as opposed to 4.99 per cent in non-slum areas. Among Baiganwadi, Govandi, Mankhurd, Shivaji Nagar, Trombay-Cheeta Camp and Vashi naka areas that were surveyed, disability proportions were highest in Govandi, which has a larger slum settlement. Slum residents reported most common disability in mobility, followed by hearing and vision. The survey found that only 8.3 per cent with severe disability, such as complete loss of vision, hearing problems, and mobility issues, had a fixed wage employment, much lower as compared to 36.4 per cent with no disability. Meera Shenoy, founder of Youth4Jobs, an organisation that helps disabled persons get employment, said lack of data made it difficult to gain access to basic services for them.

“A family can be moved out of poverty if the disabled in the family are given jobs. For that, needs of the disabled have to be identified by the employer and worked upon. We need to train and sensitise more organisations,” she said.

The Apnalaya report also found disability was higher among the elderly with a prevalence rate of 10.27 per cent in the 60 to 74 years bracket, as compared to 1.41 per cent for those aged between 25 and 59. At least 37.6 per cent people with disability reported they had no schooling experience as compared to 9.6 per cent with no disability. The NGO has shared its report with the BMC and the state government. Prerna Deshbhratar, Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities, Maharashtra, said, “This report will be helpful for the government in making policy decisions for disabled group.”

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