The Delhi government has set up a state advisory board on disability to assist the government departments in the implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016.
The 45-member board will be chaired by the social welfare minister and will play a key role in addressing problems faced by persons with disability and making the city disabled-friendly.
Apart from principal secretaries of departments such as health, education, employment, public works etc, the government has nominated AAP MLAs Praveen Kumar, SK Bagga and Sharad Kumar as members of the board.
The board will make suggestions to departments to develop accessible infrastructure or address issues faced by persons with disability, while availing of medical treatment, education and employment, among others.
With 14 new disabilities being recognised under the new Act, disability rights activists say a lot of people faced problems in getting disability certificates until last year.
Social welfare minister Rajendra Pal Gautam said, “The advisory board will help in addressing the concerns of people with disabilities. The number of disabilities covered under the Act has increased from seven to 21. The board will assist in preparing comprehensive guidelines for smooth implantation of the Act, inclusive education, and address issues related to certification. We will soon have a board meeting.”
Delhi is now among the few states and union territories such as Mizoram, Goa and Chandigarh to have a state advisory board on disability.
Disability rights activists say the demand for the advisory board, which is mandated as per the Act, has been a long-standing one. There have been a lot of issues concerning people with disabilities ever since the new Act came into force.
Dr Satendra Singh, professor at University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS), said, “It is good that the government has constituted the board, as there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed. A lot of people, especially those with disabilities that have now been added to the list, faced difficulty in getting certificates. They also faced a lot of problems during the pandemic, especially the lockdown. There was no state commissioner for disability in Delhi for months. These issues could have been taken up by the advisory board had it been there.”
Preeti Mohan, founder trustee and CEO of Silver Linings, a non-profit organisation working for blind people, has been appointed as a member of the board. Mohan, who is visually impaired, said, “There is a need to provide equal opportunity to people with disabilities and for that, inclusive schooling is essential. With the help of technology, we can make it possible for children with disabilities.”