Telangana High Court instructs state to look into funds, provide helpline numbers for disabled people
The Telangana High Court has instructed state officials to look into earmarking exclusive funds for people with disabilities during the lockdown period. The court also wants the state to start helplines numbers so that more people with disabilities can get help during the lockdown period. Disability rights activist in the state are glad that the legal system has finally opened eyes to the plight of disabled people. But how well will all this be implemented? The state’s disabled community is waiting.
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected India in many ways. Thousands of people with disabilities have lost their jobs and are currently struggling to make ends meet. State governments and NGO’s are doing their bit. But clearly, that is not enough. There is still a long way to go. Recently, the Telangana High Court instructed the state government to look into keeping aside funds for disabled people during the lockdown period. The court also added that there must be exclusive helpline numbers so that disabled people can call for help during the pandemic. Disability rights activist have cheered this latest move, but express their doubts on how well this will be implemented across the state.
Telangana’s disabled feel sidelined
According to international norms as well as India’s Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, disabled community must be provided with adequate services and help during times like a pandemic. Most states failed to comply with that. Telangana is not an exception.
Lawyer K Pavan Kumar stated in the High Court that Telangana’s government helpline for disabled people received only 59 calls for help at Rangareddy district where many people with disabilities live. This clearly shows that most of the community members are not even aware of the help being provided by the government. Pavan also urged that the court must direct officials to provide adequate funds in order to help disabled people in the state in all possible ways.
Need to reach out to disabled people
Reportedly, only private groups and NGO’s are currently working towards helping disabled people, especially in rural areas. Vasundhara Koppula, a disability rights activist from Telangana says that most of the NGO’s have been unable to reach out to disabled people living in rural areas. To help them, the government has to step up.
“We had a discussion with Telangana disability rights commissioner who promised help. Sadly, we have not got any help yet. So now we are in talks with other officials like police who might be able to help us to reach out in a better way. I’am glad to know that the state High Court has instructed officials to look into these matters. Helplines are a great initiative. But what about basic things like providing groceries and medicine. During these times, there is a larger need for medicines amongst disabled community”, says Koppula.
She further adds, “Most of the requests are coming from rural areas where we are unable to reach. Transport is a problem. Government must help us in this. The Supreme Court has also told that NGO’s must be granted permission to serve disabled people in need. Public must also be made aware of all this”.
Providing basic amenities like medicine and groceries, starting helpline numbers and reaching out to disabled people are a way great to help the community. But government needs to start these at the earliest. Prolonging these initiatives are only going to make things worse for thousands of disabled people in Telangana.
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