New Delhi: Few state governments take the issue of disability seriously, with “spotty” implementation of current legislation governing the rights of people with disabilities across the board, said Prasanna Kumar Pincha, chief commissioner for persons with disability.
Only five state commissioners—those of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Rajasthan—have bothered to submit annual reports for 2010-11 to their state governments, the Union social justice ministry said on Wednesday at the 11th national meeting of commissioners for persons with disabilities.
Although the 1995 law for people with disabilities has been in place for 16 years, the majority of states have no official policy for them, he said.
The social justice ministry has recently simplified the process for the allocation of disability certificates—necessary to claim benefits and schemes designated for people with disabilities. However, not many states have actually implemented the new system, according to Pincha.
Most states also lack a full-time commissioner for persons with disabilities—the person responsible for allocating grants and hearing grievances—and many district disability rehabilitation centres are “non-functional”, Pincha said.
“It is with some concern that I note that the status of implementation of the existing Persons with Disabilities Act across the country is skewed and uneven,” social justice minister Mukul Wasnik said in a speech. “This is attributable to a variety of reasons—including the absence of full-time commissioners of disabilities with independent charge at the state level, non-functionoing of state-level coordination and executive committees, and non-compliance with critical provisions of the existing Act in letter and spirit.”
Pincha also noted poor implementation of inclusive education policies, a backlog of reserved vacancies for people with disabilities in the government and poor implementation of reservations for people with disabilities all across India. “The implementation of SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) is in shambles,” said minister of state for social justice and empowerment D. Napoleon.
In 2008, India was one of the initial countries to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, implementation has not yet taken place.
The social justice ministry recently created a department of disability affairs with a separate budget in an effort to “enable the government to undertake focused and elaborate initiatives on disability issues,” according to Wasnik, and is currently in the process of drafting new legislation for the empowerment of persons with disabilities to replace the current Act, though it is yet to be submitted to a committee or Parliament.
India has 22 million people with disabilities—roughly 2.13% of the total population, according the 2001 census. Globally, the World Report on Disability and the World Bank estimate that people with disabilities represent as much as 15% of the world’s population.