Guwahati, June 16: DoNER minister Paban Singh Ghatowar today expressed concern that low certification of disabled people in the Northeast and poor utilisation of funds meant for their welfare were the reasons behind their poor employment rate.
Addressing the regional symposium on Disability Scenario in Northeast India: Status, Challenges and Prospects, organised by Sishu Sarothi, an organisation working for the disabled here, Ghatowar said of the 7.41 lakh persons with disabilities, only 29.7 per cent possessed disability certificates. As a result, they were deprived of the special facilities meant for them.
“A disability certificate is a pre-requisite for employment under the special criteria and laws meant for persons with disabilities. However, because of a lack of awareness, large numbers of persons with disabilities do not possess the certificates. Our government departments, NGOs and all related agencies should go to villages and try to remedy this,” Ghatowar said.
The percentage of disabled persons in the Northeast is 1.9 per cent, which is slightly less than the national rate of 2.1 per cent. There is three per cent reservation for the disabled for direct recruitment, according to central government rules. The NGOs, however, said the figure would be much more.
“If we can improve certification of the disabled, more and more people with disabilities will get employment. It has been found that the disabled and employed persons employed do a better job than normal persons,” Ghatowar said. Activists working for persons with disabilities expressed concern over the process of certification and stressed the need to make it hassle-free and accessible.
Nicky Chakchuak of Mizoram, who became physically challenged after a motorcycle accident in 2002 and now represents Differently Abled, an NGO, said, “Certification of the disabled is very poor in Mizoram because of the lengthy process involved. A person needs to collect forms from a hospital and submit it to the social welfare department and then has to visit the health department. How can a disabled person run from one office to another?” he said.
Ghatowar also expressed concern over poor utilisation of the funds meant for the disabled. “The earmarked outlays of the ministry of social justice and empowerment, during the first three years of the Eleventh Plan (2007-2012) were consistently higher than the stipulated amount but I am surprised to see that the actual expenditure has been consistently below the earmarked outlays. We need to find out the reasons for this discrepancy between outlays and expenditure and address the issue accordingly,” Ghatowar said.