Nearly a year since introduction, Kerala government's Subhayatra project yet to launch
The Kerala State Handicapped Persons' Welfare Corporation had introduced the 'Subhayatra' project last year in which people with disabilities will be given electronic wheelchairs under the scheme. Over 2423 people applied for the same. It has been nearly a year since its launch, but the project never took off raising questions amongst disabled community in Kerala.
Over the last couple of years, the government of Kerala has introduced many projects for the welfare of people with disabilities. Some of have been rightly implemented whereas many others were merely put on paper. One amongst the projects that never took off was the much awaited Subhayatra. A project initiated by The Kerala State Handicapped Persons' Welfare Corporation (KSHPWC), 'Subhayatra' which means a happy journey in Malayalam, was introduced last December. Electronic wheelchairs will be distributed to identified beneficiaries under this scheme. It has been more than a year, but the project never saw light.
KSHPWC announced about this project on their 40th anniversary celebrations last year. According to reports, over 2423 people with disabilities submitted their applications on December 2018. KSHPWC officials have been passing the buck saying that there has been a lag due to technical problems of wheelchairs that needs to be sorted out.
Rajeev Palluruthy, Secretary, All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF) says that the 'Subhayatra' project moving at a slow pace merely shows inefficiency of KSHPWC officials.
Though they confirmed that the procedures are over, distribution of wheelchairs have not taken place. Now they are saying that they are making a priority list and that is why it is taking a long time. The tender has been provided to an overseas company. We want it to be given to beneficiaries at the earliest without further delays- Rajeev Palluruthy, Secretary, AKWRF.
Reportedly, a team consisting of ten medical professionals have identified the beneficiaries after which KSHPWC says that they will provide electronic wheelchairs without further delays.
"KSHPWC had allotted over Rs 10 crore for their annual projects last financial year. This includes expenses for treatment, medical expenses, education and jobs. In this, Rs 2 crore has been kept aside for providing equipment's like wheelchairs and artificial limbs. 'Subhayatra' project was part of this. Thousands of people have given applications, but sadly nothing substantial has been done till date. Now, we don't even know whether quality of these wheelchairs are going to be good", says Unni Maxx, a disability rights activist from Kerala.
In 2017, eleven wheelchairs were given to beneficiaries as part of the project. All the wheelchairs were created and developed by experts of the Kerala Science and Technology Museum.