Volume 3 Issue 17 - September 01, 2005

Disability Law Unit’s team discovers shocking violation of disability rights in Kerala

D.N.I.S. News Network Disability Law Unit, South, Vidya Sagar, recently conducted a legal awareness campaign in Kerala and came across the dismal state of awareness about The Disability Act, 1995, and blatant violation of its provisions.

The team interacted with people with disabilities in Paravur, Pathanamthitta, Kumili and Puliamala and set up self-advocacy groups. But what came, as a shock to the team members is the lack of awareness and denial of rights to disabled people by the government authorities.

Following are some of the findings by the legal awareness campaign team that visited parts of Kerala in the month of July:

1. People with earning up to Rs.6,000 per annum are still considered being below the poverty line, though the ceiling has been raised to Rs.22, 000, as no Government Order has been issued in this regard.

2. Rs.110 is given as Disability Pension. Disabled people said that they have to spend more money on conveyance than the amount given as pension. The amount translates into a meagre Rs.3.50 per day. Further, the Disability Pension is considered to be a poverty alleviation scheme but in reality it is not so as the amount is very meagre.

3. The Disability Certificate is only given at the District headquarters. Disabled people say it should at least be at the block level.

4. There is a need for block and district level Disabled Peoples Organisation that could be formed by the leaders of self-help groups of the respective Districts. The disabled people also find it difficult to get the scholarship meant for them. Only one person has got the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC) loan in entire Paravur District. This shows how inaccessible the scheme is.

5. For issuing free bus pass for disabled people, the minimum requirement is of 50 per cent disability. This a gross violation of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, which says that a person with 40 per cent or more can avail any government schemes and incentive meant for people with disabilities. Further, the bus pass is only valid for a distance of 40 km and only available to passenger of super fast category.

6. Ambalapuzha Temple authority does not allow wheelchairs inside the temple.

7. A mentally retarded child has not been given Disability Certificate saying that he will be cured after 15 years of age.

8. The Mahatma Gandhi University in Cochin does not have any reservation for disabled people in professional courses.

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