MANGALORE: Persons with disabilities in the state are humiliated and their rights violated by the very institutions set up for their welfare and empowerment — Women and Child Development Department and Department for Empowerment of Differently-Abled and Senior Citizens.
A 35-page document, submitted to Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda and the chief secretary a week ago by State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities K V Rajanna, reveals how Women and Child Development Department is inept in the role of a nodal agency to implement programmes of the Department for Empowerment of Differently-Abled, as it does not have any relevant data about the conditions of the specially-abled people in Karnataka.
The lack of data on socio-economic and educational status of the specially-abled, the number of mentally-ill persons and response of care-givers has been a stumbling block in drafting an action plan for the differently-abled.
The department also had failed to commission studies to find out why some disabilities were concentrated in particular regions.
For instance, the number of mentally-challenged children were found to be high in the undivided Dakshina Kannada district. The Officer for Empowerment of Differently-Abled and Senior Citizens struggles against all odds to meet the expectations of about 1,80,000 differently-abled people from an estimated population of 15 lakh in a district.
Hit by a lack of staff and facilities, the officer cannot work independently and is forced to report to the deputy director of Women and Child Welfare Department. Coordination among various departments is not happening at secretary levels due to ego clashes.
Endosulfan Victims Left in the Lurch
Ignoring reports of deadly disabilities in Puttur and elsewhere due to suspected Endosulfan poisoning, these departments did not even visit the day care centre in Kokkada. The departments made no effort to envisage programmes to take care of Endosulfan victims in the absence of care-givers.
The document recommends that the Department for Empowerment of Differently-Abled and Senior Citizens should be entrusted with the day care centre.
Manasa Kendras Yet to See Light of Day The Centre implemented the Mental Health Act in 1987, and the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 included mental illness as one among the seven disabilities.
Yet, these departments remained aloof from Centre’s mental health programme implemented in four districts and DHO’s mental health programmes in districts.
The departments set up only one ‘Manasa Kendra’ (in Bangalore) as against the target of five Kendras to rehabilitate the mentally-ill.