Chennai: Protesting against the non-implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, an umbrella organisation of differently abled persons demonstrated before the state secretariat on Thursday, demanding the immediate appointment of the commissioner to oversee the Act’s execution. They also demanded action against officials for ill treatment of differently abled persons, which they claimed was agreed to by the Chief Secretary of the Tamil Nadu government.
In a meeting with the office-bearers of the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers (TARADAC), the Chief Secretary assured them that immediate action would be taken to implement the demands raised by the organisations.
The organisations also alleged that the welfare officer concerned had been acting in haste against the welfare of the disabled persons visiting the office.
S Nambu Rajan, general secretary of TARADAC told NewsClick, “Even after the Act was passed in 2016, the state government has not shown any interest in implementing the Act. Also, differently abled persons are facing several problems in receiving the welfare schemes of the government due to the attitude of the officials of the welfare board. The struggle was to highlight these two important issues”.
Around 1,000 members of the organisations court arrested on Thursday following the demonstration after which the office bearers were called for a meeting with the Chief Secretary. “The chief secretary was patient in listening to the issues we raised and has promised speedy action on our demands”, added Nambu Rajan.
SHRC Takes Suo Motu Action
The organisation alleged that the officer on duty as the welfare officer continued to deny permission for disabled persons or office-bearers of the associations to represent their sufferings. Due to such an attitude an amount of Rs 30 crore had been surrendered for the welfare schemes of differently abled persons in the previous year, they alleged.
Meanwhile, the State Human Right Commission (SHRC) has taken suo motu action following the struggle of the organisations. It has sent a notice to the Chief Secretary, secretary to the department of differently abled and the state commissioner for differently abled.
The SHRC also questioned whether the failure in implementing the schemes amounted to human rights violation of the stake holders. It also called for a detailed list of applicants awaiting the welfare schemes, including scholarship, pension and maintenance assistance. The commission has also directed the offices concerned to respond within four weeks.
Implement Welfare Schemes
Nambu Rajan said, “The new Act ensures an additional 25% to the disabled persons on all welfare schemes as compared to other citizens, and allocation of 5% of the total amount specifically to the disabled persons. The secretary to the government, who has to ensure the implementation of these sections by other departments of the state governments, remains unmindful. The department lethargic functioning can be gauged from the fact that Rs 30 crore has been surrendered last year, which was allocated for the welfare of the differently abled persons”.
The organisations also alleged that the minister for social welfare had promised to implement the welfare schemes as per the laid-out norms during June this year, which also remains unfulfilled.
Members of other organisations, including December 3 Movement, Tamil Nadu Organisation for the Hearing Impaired and National Council for the Visually Challenged participated in the demonstration.