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Parliamentary Panel 'Unhappy' Over 'Flouting' of Disability Act Provisions

A report titled 'Assessment of scheme for implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (SIPDA)' was tabled in the parliament on August 5.

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New Delhi: A parliamentary standing committee has expressed “unhappiness” over the flouting of certain provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016, and asked the government to focus on this.

The report by the parliamentary standing committee on social justice and empowerment on actions taken by the government based on observations and recommendations of the committee on ‘Assessment of Scheme for Implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (SIPDA)’ was tabled in Lok Sabha on Friday.

In the report, the committee said it was “unhappy with the manner in which the provisions of the Act are being flouted”.

“They wish to remind the ministry that redressal of grievances is one of the most important rights envisaged under this Act and dilution in establishing an appropriate mechanism for the same would be an injustice to PwDs, who are one of the most marginalised sections in the country,” it said.

In view of the crucial and urgent need involved in the establishment of special courts in every state of the country, the committee urged the ministry to accord focused attention in this regard so that they make substantial progress in protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.

“Keeping in view the lukewarm response by the implementing agencies for the creation of ‘Barrier-Free Environment’ both in physical and virtual terms as the ministry could release Rs 44.30 crore during 2018-19 to 2020-21, the committee had recommended the ministry to evaluate the objectives or methodology of the scheme and analyse the reasons for its poor performance and take corrective actions.”

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The ministry in its action-taken reply submitted that it was undertaking regular correspondence and holding video conference sessions with states and Union territories to initiate steps for ensuring accessibility for PwDs.

Further, the committee also noted that the ministry was regularly reminding the states and UTs of the urgent need to clear the pendency of utilisation certificates which is a pre-requisite for the scheme.

The committee, however, feels that these efforts, perhaps, are not proving to be adequate as only 11 states have so far benefitted from the scheme. They believe that the ministry needs to constantly sensitise the state governments on the requirement of a barrier-free environment for disabled persons to increase their reach and mobility, empower them and make them independent and productive members of the society,” it said.

The committee, therefore, asked the ministry to bring some outside-the-box ideas for the effective implementation of this component.

There should also be continuous efforts to make states aware of the eligibility criteria of proposals so that those are devoid of any technical infirmities to the maximum possible extent,” it said.

While reiterating its earlier recommendation, the committee said it would like the ministry to move beyond simply corresponding with states on this matter and take effective measures for expediting the process to ensure that PwDs get wide accessibility in the physical and virtual world across the country in a comfortable manner without any impediments.

Concerned about the violation of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016, where it is imperative to have a state commissioner for persons with disabilities, the committee had recommended that the ministry should pursue the states for the appointments and the designation of special courts for PwDs expeditiously.

From the reply provided by the ministry, the committee found that six states were yet to designate special courts to try the offences under the RPwD Act, 2016.

Besides, over 20 states and UTs have state commissioners for PwDs with additional charge.

The committee had recommended proactive measures to encourage more states to set up helplines to address queries and problems faced by PwDs.

“The committee, however, finds that there has been almost no progress in this sphere as the coverage has extended to a mere 11 states now,” it said.

In view of the imperatives involved in the setting up of helplines for effective redressal and resolution of queries of PwDs in states and UTs, the committee called upon the ministry to dynamically track their status so that requisite actions are taken in a time-bound manner.