Volume 4 Issue 7 - April 01, 2006

Disability and Law Workshop held in Bhubaneswar

D.N.I.S. News Network- A daylong Disability and Law Workshop was held recently in Bhubaneswar to brainstorm on the issue of creating greater awareness vis-ŕ-vis rights of disabled people enshrined in the decade old Disability Act and evoking an active participation of the legal fraternity in playing an active role in this process.

Picture of inauguration of Disability Law Network

The Workshop was organised on 21 March 2006 at Hotel Crown. Chief Executive of Swabhiman Dr. Sruti Mohapatra began the proceedings by detailing the background and activities of the organisation. She stressed that her colleagues at Swabhiman felt that there is great need for disseminating information about laws protecting rights of disability people and also readily available legal guidance to address violation of these rights.

It was also realised that Swabhiman alone will not be able to make any impact unless its efforts are bolstered by collective strength of other Partners and thus, started the achievements of Orissa State Disability Network (O.S.D.N.).

Chairperson of Orissa State Human Rights Commision Justice Debapriya Mohapatra, who was the Chief Guest at the inaugural session, called upon the legal fraternity to take up the issue of disability rights in earnest. He, however, added that statutes and acts are not sufficient to change the mind set of society towards disabled people.

Nicola Murray, Head Programme Management, British High Commission (B.H.C.) was the Guest of Honour at the Workshop. She drew comparison of the Indian Disability Act with Disability Discrimination Act in the U.K. and highlighted the importance of professional approach to all global human rights issues including disability. She said that the Disability Law Unit Project supported by the B.H.C. has exceeded all expectations.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Mona Sharma, Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development, Orissa. She reiterated her commitment to the rights of disabled people in Orissa and shared that she will soon start holding courts in her office.

Second session of the Workshop focused on the three key disability legislations namely, Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, Rehabilitation Council of India (R.C.I.) Act, and National Trust Act. Sanyaasi Behera of Orissa Federation of the Blind gave an overview of the actual implementation of the Disability Act in Orissa.

Annie Patri made a presentation on R.C.I. Act and its implementation in Orissa. Krishna Prasad Pandab, a parent of mentally disabled child from Rourkela, gave a presentation on the National Trust Act and rued the fact that Collectors who are supposed to chair the Local Level Committees under the Act were ill informed about the Act and their role.

Programme Officer of National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People Dr. Meenu Bhambhani shared the initiatives taken by the organisation at the national level and encouraged the stakeholders in the state to recognise the rights of persons with disabilities in the region. She stressed on active participation of people with disabilities themselves in the implementation of the Acts.

Director Vocational Rehabilitation Centre V.K. Sharma chaired the concluding session. He suggested that disability sector needs to do its homework well and learn the functioning of government.

The workshop ended with the participants pledging to remain united and continue the fight for an equitable and inclusive Orissa.

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