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Getting a disability certificate in Punjab promises to be easier now

Good news for the disabled community in Punjab with the government committing to issue disability certificates faster. The government says the process will now be streamlined.

The delay in the issuing of disability certificates has led to protests in many parts of Punjab, Most recently, activists of the Handicapped Union blocked the main gate of a hospital in Fazilka to draw attention to the problems they face. One of the main issues the disabled community has been voicing is the inconvenience cause due to the repeated trips they have to make to hospitals.

The government of Punjab seems to have noticed these voices finally and has promised to make the process faster and transparent. More hospitals and authorities at the district and sub divisional level have been designated as well.

Grievance cells across Punjab have been flooded with complaints over the huge delays. This is true for large parts of India, with people with disabilities saying they have to wait for months. There are not enough specialists available which means repeated trips.

The delay in certificates is just one issue, say activists.

It would be great if the provision of the Right of Person with Disability 2016 Act are fully implemented in the state. There are many other aspects that need to be worked on apart from the issuance of disability certificates. Many promises and announcements are made but only time will tell if they are fulfilled. - Arun Kumar, NGO Disha,Chandigarh

"Getting a disability certificate should be easy and hassle-free. People with disabilities should not be required to visits the hospitals repeatedly because of unavailability of specialists," adds Kiran Verma, a visually impaired person from Mohali.

The upgrade of the disability certificate process was announced by Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu recently. Singh also said that civil surgeons have been directed to ensure the implementation of RPWD Act provisions.

Civil surgeons head the medical boards made up of specialists from various fields like orthopedics, ENT etc. These boards are part of the evaluation process for issuance of disability certificates. Under the provisions of the RPWD Act, the boards are meant to have regular meetings to ensure that people who apply for disability certificates get evaluated and are provided their documents without much delay.

"No laxity will be tolerated in this regard and if any officer concerned indulges in dereliction of duty in the issuance of the certificate or delay the process without any particular reason, then that officer will be strictly dealt with," said Sidhu.

The announcement is sure to bring some relief to people with disabilities who have been waiting for their certificates. In case of any complaints or disputes that arise, people with disabilities can approach Director, Health and Family Welfare dwho has been designated as the appellate authority by the state government.

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