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5th meeting of the National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (N.C.R.P.D.) held on March 17

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: The 5th meeting of the National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (N.C.R.P.D.) India was held on March 17 in New Delhi. The meeting was called to discuss the following issues: new law versus amendments to the Disability Act, amendments to the National Trust Act, recent developments vis - a - vis the Ministry of Urban Development on access guidelines and the progress on the issue of Universal Electronic Accessibility Policy.

In his opening remarks, Javed Abidi, Honorary Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) said, “N.C.R.P.D. has been working quietly on various issues and the results are slowly showing.”

Abidi informed the Committee about the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s (M.S.J.E.) cageyness regarding the new law. He said that although slowly M.S.J.E. is making the right noise but there is no concrete information as to whether they are going to finally go for amendments or for a new law.

The majority present at the meeting favoured writing another letter to Mukul Wasnik, Minister for M.S.J.E. It was unanimously decided to wait for two more months for the Ministry to make its position clear and only then launch an agitation. It was also agreed that individual organisations should start writing to the Minister making clear their stand in support of a new law.

The issue of proposed amendments to the National Trust Act was discussed at length. J.P. Gadkari, President, Parivar sought clarifications from Chairperson of National Trust, Poonam Natarajan as to why primary stakeholders and Amendments Sub-Committee members were not consulted during the drafting. Natarajan clarified that the drafting process was work in progress and the final draft will be placed before the National Trust Board on April 7.

On the issue of Disability and Census 2011, Abidi informed the Members that the question on disability as finalized at the Round Table Consultation held on March 15 and 16 will be sent to the Census Commissioner immediately. It was agreed that the Zonal Workshops should be held between July and September.

Abidi then apprised the Committee about his meeting with the Minister for Urban Development, Jaipal Reddy and the subsequent meetings with the Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary of Urban Development Ministry. He said that the draft Revision to Access Guidelines of the National Building Code, as prepared by N.C.P.E.D.P. and AccessAbility and vetted by the Core Group on Access, has been submitted to the Minister for his consideration. He also told the Members that a Committee has been set up by the Ministry to harmonise all existing access guidelines and that AccessAbility is also represented on that Committee. It is expected that they will come out with a new set of guidelines in 2 months time.

The Universal Electronic Accessibility Policy is more or less ready. Ministry of Information and Technology is expected to notify it in the next few months, after following due process and getting the necessary approvals.