'New Commissioner A Handicap for PwDs'

Published: 20th April 2015 06:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th April 2015 06:04 AM   |  A+A-

BHUBANESWAR:The State Government’s decision to appoint a person with no experience in the field of development and rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) as State Commissioner for PwDs (SCPD) is unconstitutional, unjust and unwarranted, Chief Executive of Swabhimaan Shruti Mohapatra said here on Sunday.

Addressing a forum of differently-abled people from across the State, Mohapatra said the post of SCPD deems vast exposure and sensitivity towards the disabled.

Section 49-B of the PwDs (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and the Full Participation) Act states that the Commissioner should have special knowledge or practical experience in matters relating to rehabilitation of PwDs. On the contrary, the newly appointed SCPD, Minati Behera, was bereft of these pre-requisites, Mohapatra added.

“Grievance redressal of PwDs is the fundamental and pressing responsibility of a SCPD. Will it be possible for a Commissioner to deliver justice if he or she has not worked on matters pertaining to PwDs? Can such a SCPD empathise with the concerns of an ever-oppressed section of society?” asked Mohapatra.

Despite all these disqualifications, Behera, a BJD loyalist was appointed to the post. This is disdainful and an ostensible act of political rehabilitation by the ruling party, she said.

“When the Women’s Commission is headed by a woman, minority commission by a person from the minority group, SC and ST Commission by a person from the Scheduled Caste and Tribe, then why should the Commissioner of PwDs not be a person with disability?” asked Mohapatra.

This apart, the Commissioner of PwDs should have minimum of three years of experience in the field of empowerment of PwDs.

Members of social organisations from across the country have written to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik seeking his intervention in the matter. They have demanded immediate cancellation of Behera’s nomination and appointment of a suitable candidate as the SCPD.

“As letters to the CM have not yielded any response, we have decided to form small groups and apprise the Chief Secretary, the Minister concerned and Women and Child Development Secretary. If our voices are still not heard, we would hit the streets of the Capital and stage a mass agitation,” warned Mohapatra.

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