JAGATSINGHPUR: Hundreds of persons with disabilities (PwDs) are deprived of benefits of Government schemes in the district as they do not possess identify certificates. Due to vacancy of specialists in the District Disability Board which issues certificates, PwDs are being forced to visit SCB Medical College and Hospital for the purpose. The board comprising specialists like mental, orthopaedics, ENT, eye, medicine and neurology was formed to conduct tests for issuing certificates to visually-impaired persons or those having mental problems, cerebral palsy or autism.
The board which functions from the District Headquarters Hospital (DHH) sits on first and third Monday every month to issue certificate. The posts are lying vacant over two years. A person with a minimum of 40 per cent physical, visual or mental disability is eligible for a disability certificate, sources said.
Disability certificates are meant for availing benefits related to employment, education or various Government schemes extended towards benefiting people with disabilities. The certificate acts as a proof of disability of an individual and is an important tool that helps him/her avail benefits, facilities, rights that he/she is entitled to from the State and Central governments.
Disabled persons alleged that they are also being harassed at SCBMCH as the Ward boys and attendants of the doctors demand bribe for conducting tests. If a PwD fails to pay the money, the doctor writes the disability percentage as per his/her wish, they said.
Though the State Government had launched an online platform to avoid inordinate delays in issuing disability certificates, the specimen signatures do not match with the system. As a result, hundreds of PwDs who tested their disability at SCB are yet to get their certificates.
A disabled person Sukadev Sahoo alleged that, “Since long, I have been running from pillar to post to obtain disability certificate, but to no avail.”
Admitting the vacancy of specialists, Chief District Medical Officer Ashok Kumar Patnaik said, “We are referring the PwDs to SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack to conduct tests. Despite frequent reminders, the higher authorities are yet to take steps in this regard. Nearly 40 disabled persons have not received their certificates due to mismatch of signatures of specialists.”