Consequent to discussions on several earlier occasions with NGOs and Social Activists who are operating in the Disability arena, Governor N.N. Vohra, Shri Sajad Gani Lone, Minister for Social Welfare, ARI & Trainings and Science & Technology and Shri B.B. Vyas, Chief Secretary, held an extensive meeting at the Raj Bhavan here to discuss important outstanding issues and demands relating to Specially Abled Persons in the State.
The meeting was attended by Shri Sajad Ahmad Khan, Commissioner, Social Welfare Department; Shri Mohammad Iqbal Lone, Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities; Ms Shamima Noor, Principal, Deaf and Dumb School; Shri Javed Ahmad Tak, Chairman, Humanity Welfare Organization Helpline, Anantnag; Shri Abdul Rashid Bhat, President, J&K Handicapped Association; and Shri Arajmand Makhdoomi, Founder President, Chotay Taray Foundation, Srinagar.
During the meeting detailed discussions were held regarding issues relating to the entire range of problems being faced by Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). After discussions it was decided: (i) Commissioner Social Welfare Department shall immediately move the School Education Department for allotment of a suitable school building (vacated due to the recent mergers/clubbing of several government schools) for establishing Schools for PwDs at Jammu and Srinagar with adequate hostel and all other required facilities; (ii) an Ambulance shall be provided by Social Welfare Department; (iii) to start with, offices at the regional level, with adequate facilities for PwDs, shall be set up; the need for establishing offices at District level shall be considered later on the basis of experience gained; (iv) Minister for Social Welfare agreed that Legislation on the lines of Central Disability Act, 2016 shall be finalised to issue as an Ordinance on urgent basis; (v) taking a serious note of the difficulties being faced by PwDs for lack of ramps in Government buildings, it was decided that Public Works Department shall issue immediate instructions to all concerned departments to ensure that clearance for construction of any new Government building shall not be issued unless the building design has provision for ramps etc for disabled persons; (vi) Chief Secretary informed that the Social Welfare Department (SWD) has received funds amounting to Rs 42.74 lakh for making 147 already identified buildings disability friendly, DPRs for modification of 67 more buildings have been approved while 7 buildings have already been made PwDs friendly; (vii) Governor observed that this important project should be implemented in a time bound manner and Minister SWD agreed to monitor progress; (viii) Chief Secretary assured that in the next State Level Bankers’ Meeting one/two representatives of PwDs shall also be invited to discuss the possibility of making all Bank ATMs disability friendly; (ix) Minister SWD agreed that the School Education Department shall be moved to make all out efforts to ensure that all infrastructure in Government schools is PwDs friendly; (x) Minister SWD accepted Governor’s suggestion that he would have an urgent meeting with Education Minister to see that teaching/learning materials, including Special Education and Sign Language Interpreters for PwDs are provided in all Government schools; (xi) Minister SWD directed Commissioner SWD to take urgent action for a Brail Press being established, to begin with it could be part of the Government Printing Press, Kashmir, and Ranbir Government Press, Jammu; (xii) Chief Secretary assured that regarding provision of Scribes/Amanuensis to students with severe disabilities during various Board or competitive examinations, the norms being followed by CBSE and UPSC shall be got adopted; it was decided that Commissioner SWD shall take immediate necessary action in this matter; (xiii) Minister SWD observed that, in consultation with Finance Department, PwDs shall be given all required facilities and Self Help Groups shall be got set up for starting their own ventures and lead respectable lives; (xiv) Minister SWD agreed that SWD shall urgently explore providing the requisite number of motorized tricycle/electronic wheel chairs to meet the needs PwDs, during the current Financial Year; (xv) as suggested by Governor it was decided that a base line survey shall be got urgently carried out to establish a tehsil and district wise data base of PwDs as this will also ensure against the misuse of disability quota by fake disability certificate holders; (xvi) Governor emphasised issuance of strict and clear instructions to the Health and Medical Education Department to advise the State Medical Boards to closely check and ensure against issuance of fake disability certificates; (xvii) it was agreed that Commissioner PwDs/SWD shall take up with Government of India to explore all possible benefits which could be procured for being made available to PwDs under the National Food Security Scheme; (xviii) Governor emphasised the need to have a complete data base with regard to the total number, level wise, educated PwDs in the State so that a comprehensive proposal for keeping a certain percentage of vacancies reserved for employment of eligible disabled persons could be finalised for Government approval; (xix) it was agreed that there should be an Advisory Board for PwDs so that special attention can be given to this vulnerable section of society; (xx) Governor observed that SWD should take up the matter with the Consumer Affairs Department for prioritising and facilitating the availability of AAY and BPL Cards to the deserving families of PwDs; (xxi) it was decided that Commissioner SWD shall urgently follow up regarding the establishment of Composite Regional Centre (CRC) in Jammu and effective functioning of CRC at Srinagar; (xxii) Minister SWD agreed that Commissioner SWD shall take urgent steps for adequate arrangements being made for safeguarding the rights of Senior Citizens, as enshrined in the Jammu and Kashmir Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2014.
Governor thanked Shri Sajad Gani Lone, Minister for Social Welfare, ARI & Trainings and Science & Technology for his keen interest and agreeing to most of the demands raised by the NGOs who participated in the meeting. Governor also thanked Shri B.B. Vyas, Chief Secretary, for his strong support to speeding up the implementation of all schemes relating to promoting the welfare of PwDs in J&K.
It was agreed that Commissioner SWD shall follow up on all decisions and circulate a monthly Progress Report.