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Delhi MLAs get lessons in key provisions of RPWD Act, a welcome step towards sensitization

February 8, 2019

Sensitizing political representatives to the needs of people with disabilities is key, for policies to be truly effective. This is an aspect that is often overlooked, which makes the Delhi Legislative Assembly's initiative to sensitize MLAs about the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016 a worthy one. While the RPWD Act clearly specifies that sensitization campaigns must be done among political representatives as well as the judiciary, this is an aspect that has been overlooked by many states.

The session, led by Advocate Rajendra Pal Gautam, Social Welfare Minister saw some key announcements being made like

  • Setting up of Delhi Disability Advisory Board.
  • Announcement of a State Rehabilitation and Allied Sciences Center, with the budget set aside.
  • Disability concession to be extended to the Delhi Metro.
  • MLAs urged to promote disability-inclusive constituencies using MLA LAD funds.

The Delhi Disability Advisory Board has been constituted as per the provisions of RPWD and this will be notified soon. There is a need to have a monitoring committee to implement the Disability Act as well as well as have a focus on the early prevention of disabilities. - Advocate Rajendra Pal Gautam, Social Welfare Minister, Delhi Government

Among the speakers present was T C Dhariyal, State Commissioner, Disabilities, who gets the credit for pushing this sensitization program as well as many other welcome initiatives to push forward the implementation of the RPWD Act. Dhariyal appealed to the Delhi MLAs to carry out awareness generation campaigns, promote the unique disability identity (UDID) cards and include people with disabilities in discussions.

Future goals

The Delhi Government plans to hold more seminars like these among members of the judiciary and is also working to provide high support needs to people with disabilities as per the Act. "I will write to the Chief Secretary to clear backlog vacancies to provide 4% job reservation for disabled people", promised Advocate Gautam.

Also present at the seminar was Ram Niwas Goel, Speaker, Delhi Legislative Assembly, who praised Dhariyal's move to organize mobile courts. "These should be widely publicized & organized in hospitals too as many disabled people complain about lack of certification", he added.

Among the legislators present was Timarpur MLA Pankaj Pushkar who took a vow to address the problems faced by disabled people in his constituency. Pushkar, a member of the Delhi Disability Advisory Board, says he is committed to making Timarpur the first fully inclusive constituency in the state. "I feel very empowered and enlightened by this session and I commit to implementing the provisions of the RPWD. I feel duty-bound to be first among all in implementing whatever needs to be done for people with disabilities".

This is exactly the kind of commitment and engagement that disability rights crusader Dr Satendra Singh, who was a part of the meeting, says is needed to see the Act take effect in the truest sense.

"To have a sitting MLA respond so immediately in a positive manner and make such a commitment is very rare and wonderful. This is exactly the kind of commitment we are looking for because inclusion can be effective only with a top down approach".

The Delhi government's approach towards implementing the RPWD Act 2016 has been refreshingly different. From setting up a separate committee to discuss all stakeholder suggestions received on its draft rules to its initiatives in inclusive education, the attitude is progressive and more accountable.

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