On a day when many Ranchiites exercised their voting rights at the mayoral polls, a bunch of social outfits demanded employment rights for persons with disabilities during a state- level convergence meeting held at a Ranchi hotel on Monday.
The session was organised by Sightsavers, an international organisation working for the visually impaired, in association with its partner organisations in Jharkhand — Chetna Vikash, Manav Vikash and Nava Bharat Jagriti Kendra. Representatives from the several NGOs attended the meeting.
Sightsavers’ programme manager Sudipto Mohanty said the exact number of persons with disabilities in Jharkhand was not known. “Most of them are economically backward and are deprived of employment opportunities,” he added.
Mohanty backed his claims with the findings of a 2012 survey conducted by the outfit across 12 blocks of Dumka and Hazaribagh districts. “In these blocks, we identified 14,943 persons with disabilities. There must be many more in other parts of the districts,” he said.
Mohanty further said 80 per cent households of the disabled persons they identified during the survey had an annual income of only Rs 6,000. “Also, 80 per cent of children in the 6-14 years age-group did not go to school. The few that were enrolled could not be retained,” he added.
Mohanty further revealed that NGOs working in the field did so in a compartmentalised manner and added that a convergence of such efforts might yield great results. “People with disabilities also face problems in getting certificates for their impairment,” Mohanty alleged,. He cited an example of Barhi block where persons with impaired hearing could not be certified because an audiometric technician, who was supposed to come from Dhanbad, did not turn up.
“Why couldn’t authorities hire person to examine those persons?,” asked Arun Kumar Singh, president of Jharkhand Vikalang Manch.
Advisor to Supreme Court commissioner for right to food, Balaram said the absence of adequate statistical data on persons with disabilities also affected policy making. “Their basic needs must treated as their fundamental right and addressed accordingly,” he added.
Sudha, associated with Deepsikha — a school for differently-abled — said persons with disabilities faced an attitudinal barrier from the society. “We should aim to turn them into productive citizens,” she added.
The organisers also presented six visually-impaired boys, who excelled in playing cricket for blind and had been selected for the state and national teams.
Nandana Munshi, deputy director general of UIDAI, was chief guest for the occasion and felicitated some of the young cricketers.