The awareness on the Government of India’s Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme among NGOs and the general public is very low. Hence, less than 10% of the funds earmarked for the scheme go to the Western Region comprising Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa and the two Union Territories of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu. This was stated by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Dr. Prabodh Seth at the 2nd Regional Conference on “Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS)”, held in Mumbai today, by the Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
Dr. Seth further informed that DDRS is a comprehensive scheme which covers activities ranging from the early identification of disability, to special schools for Divyangjan. The cost norms of the scheme have been enhanced by 2.5 times keeping inflation in mind. Even the norms for inspection of NGOs by state authorities have been relaxed. As per changed norms:
1. Tapering of grants with time has been done away with, ensuring a steady flow of funds.
2. States have been mandated to submit inspection report within two months of conducting the inspection, failing which approval is deemed to be given.
3. The entire process of applying for grants has been made online, making it time-bound and transparent.
Dr. Seth also said that the Department has made six Guinness World Records in disbursing various aids and assistive devices, in camps held in Rajkot, Navsari and Varanasi. 1,500 successful cochlear implant surgeries have been performed costing Rs. 6 Lakh each.
Lauding the accolades won by Indian Divyangjan players in Para-Olympic events and other world championships, Dr. Seth informed that soon, two new state-of-the-art sports complexes for Divyangjan will come up at Gwalior and Imphal.
While speaking on this occasion, Joint Secretary & Financial Advisor, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Smt. T.C.A. Kalyani said that the Government has passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPwD Act), in harmony with United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). She highlighted that this has increased the number of officially recognized disabilities from seven to twenty-one. She informed that reservation for Divyangjan in Government jobs has been increased from 3% to 4% and that in higher education institutes from 3% to 5%.
The Unique Disability Identity Cards (UDIDs) issued by central government will help undertake targeted interventions for the welfare of PwDs. Smt. Kalyani further said that the Government is committed to fostering a barrier-free environment for Divyangjan; toilets, ramps, etc. have been mandated to be constructed accordingly. Stating that the DEPwD is the only central government department which never faces budgetary cuts, Smt. Kalyani emphasised on the need to mandate the use of EAT (Expenditure, Advance and Transfer) module of Public Financial Management System. She said it will bring more transparency in fund disbursement, by necessitating expenditure filing and by improving disclosure of the status of the process of fund sanctioning.
Speaking about the Government of Maharashtra’s efforts for the welfare of Divyangjan, Principal Secretary to Government of Maharashtra, Shri Dinesh Waghmare said that an inclusive environment is very important for Divyangjan. Efforts are being made to enable students to move successfully from special schools to regular schools. A database on Divyangjan is being created; it will help make resource allocation immensely better. The corporate sector should also employ them in higher numbers, he appealed.
The objectives of the one-day regional conference were to disseminate the provisions of the revised scheme and to sensitize various stakeholders about it. This conference provided a unique opportunity for interactions amongst all stakeholders. The conference would ensure exchange of cross-sectoral views on aspects of the efficacy of the scheme as well as the scope for improvements in it.
The DDR scheme has been revised for making it more impactful for rehabilitation of PwDs. The list of model projects which have been optimized includes Pre-Schools, Early Intervention and Training; Special Schools for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities, Hearing and Speech Disabilities; Visual Disabilities; Project for Children with Cerebral Palsy; Rehabilitation of Leprosy cured persons; Half-way home for psycho-Social Rehabilitation of Treated and controlled mentally ill persons; Home-based Rehabilitation and Home Management; Community-based Rehabilitation Programme (CBR); Low vision centres and Human Resource Development.