Social Welfare Dept follows Disabilities Act in breach

In absence of ramps, handrails, specially-abled avoid approaching directorate at Old Secretariat

SHAFAQ SHAH
Srinagar, Publish Date: Mar 22 2018 11:25PM | Updated Date: Mar 22 2018 11:25PM
Social Welfare Dept follows Disabilities Act in breachGK Photo

Abdul Majid Zargar, a fragile looking man in his mid 50s who has a locomotive disability and moves on wheel chair, struggles to enter the social welfare department in Old Secretariat here. The office has no ramps and handrails for the differently abled people.

The decades old department whose job is to take steps to ensure a hassle free movement of the differently abled persons in public and work places and other institutions, is itself unfriendly to these people and lacks the necessary infrastructure for them.

“The people with locomotive disability - disability of the bones, joints or muscles leading to substantial restrictions of the movement of the limbs or any form of cerebral palsy - rarely come to the department to take the financial grant provided to them by the department, rather they send their family members to collect the money, for the department doesn’t have a ramp that can allow them to come inside without any difficulty,” said an employee at the department.

According to the Jammu and Kashmir Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1998, “the government and the local authorities shall, within the limits of their economic capacity and development provide for – a) ramps in public building; b) adaptation of toilets for wheel-chair users; c) Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators or lifts; d) ramps in hospitals, primary health centres and other medical care and rehabilitation institutions.”

But the department is itself flouting the Disabilities Act and has also failed to implement the rules in other departments.

“There is a broken stair to welcome the physically challenged people. If, somehow they will manage to come inside the lawn, then there is the problem to get inside the office, for the stairs are too steep for the wheel chair to climb, so they (beneficiaries) prefer staying home,” said an employee.

The department’s other wing works upstairs - a cracked building, with bare walls and a narrow staircase.

“The department lacks all the basic requirements that the Disabilities Act has asked them to fulfill, so we have no moral mandate to ask other departments to follow the rules. First we have to correct ourselves, and then we can pass directions to other departments,” an official at the department said.

Commissioner for persons with disabilities, Iqbal Lone, didn’t answer calls of this reporter despite repeated attempts.

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