Jammu and Kashmir is presently conducting its first-ever disability survey to count the total number of persons with disabilities and assess the problems confronting them.
With no up-to-date figures of such persons, the government has been relying on the 2011 Census data that says J&K, population-wise, has the highest number of the persons with disabilities in India.
Disability survey provides a detailed and nuanced information about how people with and without disabilities conduct their lives and the difficulties they encounter, regardless of any underlying health condition or impairment.
Until now, the social welfare department has not conducted any baseline survey to determine the population of persons with disabilities.
JavaidTak, chairperson Humanity Welfare Organisation Helpline, has appealed to the persons with disabilities to visit the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) centres and fill the survey forms there.
“The disability survey is being conducted for persons with disabilities by social welfare department through local Anganwadicentres. Those who have ‘no disability certificate’ can also fill the forms. Our census is our identity. Don’t miss the opportunity to retain your identity.
It was the duty of the ICDS workers, but many of them failed to do the survey honestly,” Tak said. According to the last census report, around 3.60 lakh people, nearly three per cent of the state’s population, have some form of disability—2.8 lakh are visually impaired, 0.38 lakh are physically challenged, 0.17 lakh have speech disability and 0.13 lakh have hearing impairment.
Recently, the governor’s administration cleared the Jammu and Kashmir Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2018. The newly proposed law, apart from identifying the range of disabilities, proposes free education for children with benchmark disabilities as well as measures for effective participation of the disabled persons in sporting activities.
An official at the social welfare department said, “The population of disabled people is growing, especially after the unrest of 2016, so there is a dire need of conducting a survey so that we have the exact number.”
Commissioner disabilities Iqbal Lone said that they had requested the government to provide Rs 36 lakh for the baseline disability survey. Later, when requested to conduct the survey, the economics and statistics department said the exercise would cost Rs 4 crore. “So we thought that the social welfare department would carry out the survey and we started engaging and training anganwadi workers. We constituted nodal officers and now the survey is underway.”