The Government of India is committed for the realization of full participation, protection of rights, and equal opportunities to all including persons with disabilities. India is a country where most of the population lives in the rural areas and accessing the health and rehabilitation services has always been a challenge. In a Backgrounder issued yesterday, a brief summary of the major steps initiated by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in this direction were given.
Following is the Background Note on the legislative and Institutional framework along with the major schemes of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment for the welfare of the People with Disabilities (PwDs). The Note also contains information on facilities and concessions available to PwDs under other central schemes which are being run by other Union Ministries.
There are four important legislations dealing on disabilities issues- The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, has laid the foundation of recognition of rights for Persons with Disabilities and has facilitated development of specific programs for their education, rehabilitation, employment, non-discrimination and social security. The Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992 regulates and monitors training of rehabilitation professionals and personnel. The National Trust for the welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999, aims at enabling and empowering persons with disabilities to live independently as fully as possible in their community. Mental Health Act, 1987, address to the specific needs of persons with mental illness.
The Government of India has set up the seven National Institutes with the objective to prepare human resources in the field of rehabilitation. These institutes are apex and autonomous bodies having tripartite functions of training, research and services in the field of disability rehabilitation. Besides, Six Composite Regional Centers and 199 District Disability Rehabilitation Centers (DDRC) are functional and providing rehabilitation services across the country.
Rehabilitation Council of India was set up to regulates the training policies, programs and standardizes training courses for professionals dealing with the persons with disabilities. At present, 73 long term / short term rehabilitation courses are in operation and have more than 50,000 registered rehabilitation professional in India.
National Trust is a body corporate, constituted with the objectives to enable and empower persons with disability to live independently and as fully as possible within and as close to their community.
National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC) was set up on 24th January 1997 with an objective to promote economic development activities and self-employment ventures for the benefit of persons with disability.
Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities:
The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities set up under Section 57 of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 and is mandated to take steps to safeguard the rights and facilities to the persons with disabilities. In the year 2009-10, 931 cases were registered with the CCPD and 1071 cases including backlog cases were disposed of. During the last three years from 2007-08 to 2009-10, 11,254 grievances were taken up by the Office of Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities with various authorities. Out of them, 7532 grievances were handled in the Mobile Courts and 3722 complaints were received or were taken up suo motu at the office of CCPD. Similarly State Commissioners are also appointed under Section 60 (1) of the PwD Act, 1995 to perform a similar function in the States.
Schemes and Programs under the Ministry
Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) is a Central Scheme that includes projects for providing education and vocational training and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. During 2009-10, Rs 61.56 crore were released to support 445 NGOs covering 1.13 lakh beneficiaries. In the current year the total allocation is Rs. 120 crore.
Scheme of Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids/ Appliances (ADIP) Scheme provides grant in aid to various implementing agencies (NGOs/NIs/District Disability Rehabilitation Centers/ALIMCO/ State Handicapped Development Corporation/other local bodies) to assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation. During 2009-10 an amount of Rs 67.35 crores have been released to support 66 NGOs.
Scheme for Implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA) : Under SIPDA, the financial assistance is being given to State Government/ Union Territories, Universities/ Institutes/ Organizations set up and supported by Central/ State Governments for various activities relating to or arising out of implementation of PwD Act especially for creating barrier free environment in Universities, Institutes, Public buildings, State Government Secretariat, etc. During 2009-10 an amount of Rs 10.84 crores have been released and Rs 100 crores has been allocated for the year 2010-11.
Incentive to employers in private sector : Under this Scheme, the Government of India provides the employer's contribution for Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees State Insurance (ESI) for 3 years, for persons with disabilities employed in the private sector on or after 01.04.2008, with a monthly salary up to Rs.25,000.
As on 31.03.2010, 158 and 307 persons have been covered by EPFO and ESIC respectively under the scheme.
The National Handicapped Welfare Fund, subsequently renamed as National Fund for People with Disabilities (National Fund) was established in 1983 under the Charitable Endowment Act, 1890. Presently, the National Fund is implementing a scholarship scheme for students with disabilities out of interest income generated by a corpus of funds invested in banks and other financial securities. This scheme has been implemented since the academic year 2002-03.
The 500 new scholarships to be awarded each year are equally distributed (125 each) for the four major categories of disabilities viz. (i) Orthopedic (ii) Visual (iii) Hearing and (iv) Others. Further, 40% of the scholarships in each category are reserved for girls.
During the financial year 2009-10, 284 new Scholarships have been sanctioned besides releasing Scholarship to 153 students for the previous year.
The PwD Act provides for reservation of at least 3% of vacancies for persons with disabilities in Government Establishments.
The action taken is monitored by Department of Personnel & Training and a Special Recruitment Drive has also been undertaken to fill up the backlog vacancies.
A scheme of Incentives to Employers in the Private Sector for providing Employment to the Persons with Disabilities has been launched with effect from 1.4.2008.
Wage employment and Self employment Schemes of the Government of India make special provisions for the increased coverage of persons with disabilities.
Under Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS), pension is provided to BPL person in the age group of 18-64 with severe or multiple disability. The rate of Central assistance under IGNDPS is Rs. 200/- per month per beneficiary. State Governments have been urged to contribute at least Rs. 200/- from their end. 15 lakh beneficiaries are estimated to be covered under IGNDPS.
Several programs have been launched with a view to provide health care and preventive measures for persons with disabilities such as National Program for Control of Blindness, National Leprosy Control Program, Urban Leprosy Control Program, National Program for Prevention and Control of Deafness, National Mental Program, and National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Program.
Non-Government Organizations are also supported for undertaking programs on early intervention and early detection of disabilities.
Scheme of Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS)
The scheme was introduced during 2009-10. It aims at well being of children in difficult circumstances and reduction of their vulnerability to abusive and exploitative situations by establishing statutory support and service delivery structures throughout the country. The Scheme also provides for setting up of 'special services for children with special needs' in Children's Homes for children affected by HIV/AIDS and substance abuse as well mentally or physically challenged children who are in need of long term care.
Various concessions and facilities to persons with disabilities which include concessions in rail travel for different categories of persons with disabilities including travel with escorts, separate reservation counter, barrier free features in the railway stations, specially designed coaches in several trains etc.
Ministry of Civil Aviation also provides facilities like wheelchairs, Ambulift at some airports, reserved parking in major airports, special adapted toilets etc. Further Indian Air Carrier offers concession of 50% in economic class to passengers with locomotor disabilities. Similar concession is also provided to blind persons. Guidelines have been issued to all airlines to address to various special needs of person with disabilities.
Assistance is provided to various sports Organizations for National and International Tournaments for persons with disabilities, participation of disabled and intellectually challenged sports persons in sports competitions abroad, procurement of sports equipments etc. Grants are provided to schools including special schools for engagement of coaches and purchase of sports of sports equipments etc. under a new Scheme, Scheme of Sports and Games for the Disabled. Scheme of Pension to meritorious sports persons also cover the medal winners in Paralympic Games.
Medical Electronics & Telemedicine Division of Ministry of Communication and IT have undertaken various projects like Re-design and fabrication of Motor Wheel Chair, Computational Analysis of speech impairment, Development of High Speed Inter-point Braille Embosser, Establishment of E-Learning and E-classroom system for Visually impaired, Design & Development of Cost- Effective Bio-Signals Controlled Prosthetic Hand, etc. for the benefit persons with disabilities.