Volume 3 Issue 16 - August 15, 2005

North-East and East Zone Partners’ Meet held in Kolkata

D.N.I.S News Network -National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) organised the North-East and East Zone National Disability Network Partners Meet in Kolkata on 29 and 31 July 2005, respectively.

Picture National Disability Network East Zone Partners Meet in progress

The North-East Zonal Partners Meet was attended by National Disability Network (N.D.N.) State and District Partners from Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim. The Meet was organised with a view to strengthen and expand the current Network to other Districts of the North-East, give Partners an opportunity to interact and share their learning and experience, identify issues of common concern and device strategy for further action. Partners from Tripura, Nagaland, and Manipur could not attend the Meet.

A major issue of concern in the North-East was the non-implementation of The Disability Act, 1995. In the absence of full-time Disability Commissioners, no grievance redressal mechanism was available to people with disabilities in the region. Further, in some of the States, Partners do not have a strong Network of District Partners which has led to invisibility of the disability sector in the region. Meghalaya, however, seemed to be doing very well. Bethany Society N.D.N. State Partner in Meghalaya has Partners in all the Districts of the State and now they are also planning to penetrate into blocks and villages. Meghalaya has also come up with a publication of their State Network, documenting the process and success of their Network.

The East Zone Partners Meet was attended by State and District Partners from Jharkhand, Orissa, and Bihar and from the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Partners from Chattisgarh could not attend due to cancellation of trains owing to floods in Mumbai. West Bangal was represented by a District Partner from Darjeeling. Members of Disability Activists Forum (D.A.F.), Kolkata attended the meeting, and the possibility of making this Forum as a potential State Partner in West Bengal was explored.

In the East Zone Partners Meet, Partners discussed the successes and strategies for the future to address the issues of common concern. Standardisation of Disability Certificate and irregularities in its issuance emerged as one of the issues of key concern in the East Zone. Another issue was non-appointment of a full-time Disability Commissioner. Orissa State Disability Network (O.S.D.N.), like Meghalaya in the North-East, had a success story to share with the Partners. O.S.D.N. has adopted a very aggressive, yet non-violent / non-disruptive strategy to make the administration accountable to people with disabilities.

Partners in both the Zones, more or less, agreed on having a separate Ministry for Disability Affairs. The Meets ended with Partners submitting their future Action Plan.

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