“It is the duty of the Church to respond to the needs of the differently abled persons, following the example of Jesus and Pope Francis”, said Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore inaugurating the workshop on the new Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 conducted at the Archbishops house on Tuesday, 16th of May.
About forty persons from various non governmental organisations attended the workshop, which was the first one conducted in the city to understand the provisions of the new Act, which was promulgated by the Government of India on the 27th of December, 2016. The new Act replaces the twenty year old Persons with Disabilities Act of 1995.
“The new Act makes India on par with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on Persons with disabilities of 2006”, said Fr George Kannanthanam, who coordinated the workshop as Secretary of the Commission for the Differently Abled in the Archdiocese of Bangalore. The Commission was set up two years ago to reach out effectively to the persons who are differently abled in the Archdiocese and to coordinate the various projects that are run for them.
Dr Jose and Dr Jayanth Kumar from AIFO organisation, were the resource persons for the workshop. They presented the basic principles on which the United Nations convention is built upon: Inclusion, Participation, Respect, Equality and Accessibility. The whole concept is one of Rights and not of charity or pity, which used to be the earlier approach.
The Act has fixed the benchmark for consideration for disability at 40% to avail any government facility or provisions. One of the major advantages of the Act is to have made the disability certificate from any place valid across the country, a major concern for the persons with disabilities.
The Act has expanded the scope of the definition of disability to cover 21 different human conditions, whereas there were only seven in the old Act, eg. dwarfism. This would enable more people and more affected groups to get the provisions of the Act.
In the group discussions in the workshop, the members studied the various aspects of the Act and presented the major provisions of the new Act.
Reservation in job and promotion has been raised from 3% to 4%
5% reservation in higher education.
5 years age Relaxations in admission.
5% reservation in poverty eradication programmes, development programmes and land distributions.
For effective implementation of the Act , National advisory board (10 PWDs), State advisory board (10 PWDs), District level committees and Advisory committees for commissioners have been instituted.
Redressal mechanism would consist of Chief commissioner and 2 deputy chief commissioners, one of whom should be a PWD at the national level and Commissioner at the state level with an assistant commissioner. Setting up Special court at the district level is also envisaged in the Act.
Any violation of the provisions of the Act, would be subject to two years of imprisonment or fine of rupees one lakh or both. This includes also humiliation of disabled persons in public and fraud by non-disabled to access their entitlements.
Each State Government has to frame the rules for the implementation of the Act in the respective States in the coming months.
The workshop ended with the understanding that there is need for more awareness about the new Act and that we must hep the government to finalise the rules that would make them operational. It was also urged that all the various organisations could network together for this purpose by registering with DNA - Disability Network Alliance.
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