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India’s Maharashtra yet to notify rules to implement disability act: Activists

young man with disability wait for bus in a bus terminal
Photo: B R Ramana Reddi

The western state of India, Maharashtra is yet to officially notify the Rights of Persons with Disability (RPwD) Act 2016, which will extend protection and benefits to millions of people with disabilities in the state.

The state is three years late, and even with modest official estimates, as per nearly a decade-old census, it is home to almost 11 percent of India’s total disabled population.

“The Act stipulates that all state governments must notify rules within six months from the date of commencement of this Act. The Maharashtra government should have notified the rules by October 2017, but they have still not been notified,” Cdr Shrirang Bijur, president of Parivaar, a disability-focused non-for-profit was quoted as saying in a news report.

A Mumbai-based non-profit organisation supporting children with multiple-disabilities, which applied for renewal of its social welfare licence six months ago, has been forced to run from pillar to post to ask for the status of their application.

“We need the licence to help those children associated with us to avail existing government welfare schemes. We are tired of connecting with people in the department, but we do not receive answers,” said the founder of anonymity. Under the RPwD Act, states are mandated to dispose of such applications within three months of receipt.

“There are many parents in our organisation who have been trying to seek employment for their children — either due to financial constraints or to keep them engaged in productive work. The hospitality industry is one of the feasible sectors for such persons to find employment, and there are examples of how disabled persons perform well in such areas. If the state applies reservation, it will go a long way in benefitting children,” said Geeta Sehjpal, vice-chairperson, Parents of Downs Syndrome.

Families from slum communities who look after disabled persons suffer the most, said Madhura Nagchoudhuri, chairperson, Centre for Disability Studies and Action at Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

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