New Delhi: The National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities, Deptt. Of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Min. of Social Justice & Empowerment had organized a meeting with Govt. Officials, NGOs, parents and professionals from UTs of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh for implementation of National Trust Act, 1999 in the Union Territories.
In the first of its kind, the meeting was aimed at creating awareness and developing road for implementation of activities, schemes and programmes of the National Trust.
The meeting was graced by Sh. Farooq Ahmad Khan, Advisor to Lt. Governor, J&K as Chief Guest while Ms. Sheetal Nanda, Secretary, Social welfare J&K was Guest of Honour. Ms Anjali Bhawra, Secretary, DEPwD & Chairperson, National Trust, and Sh. Kishore Baburao Surwade, DDG, DEPwD being the special guest. Opening remarks were made by Sh. Nikunja Kishore Sundaray, JS&CEO, National Trust. The meeting was attended by more than 167 persons which included District Magistrates, Chief Medical Officers, DSWOs, Officials from Police Deptt. from the various districts of J&K and Ladakh, other Govt. officials of Social Welfare Deptt. J&K and Ladakh and organizations, professionals and Divyangjan from the Region.
Sh. Farooq Ahmad Khan while addressing the audience, in a very humble manner appreciated the initiative taken by the UT administration and National Trust for holding such a unique meeting. He stressed upon being extremely sensitive while handling matters related to Divyangjans of these categories. He urged the District Magistrates to have a very human touch while deciding on the legal guardianship for such persons. He further requested all to come forward and take up the Niramaya Health Insurance Scheme. He stressed that the Divyangjan catered under the National Trust Act should always be given priority in all benefits provided by the Government. He appreciated the work done by the National Trust and its commitment in catering to the target population of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. He appealed all the public representatives to spread this message in the Union Territory so that many more Divyangjan could be benefitted.
Ms. Anjali, Bhawra, IAS, Secretary, DEPwD & Chairperson, National Trust in her address highlighted the need for convergence of all the schemes and programmes meant for Divyangjan whether they are implemented by the Department or by the National Trust so that maximum benefit could reach the target population. She further requested all National Institutes to reach Divyangjan through technology as and when they require expert advice. She also stated that such meetings should be organized in regular manner so as to address the problems faced by the sector. She also suggested to propogate the best practices followed by various organizations working in the sector so that these Divyangjans can achieve their optimum significance.
Sh. Nikunja Kishore Sundaray, IAS, Joint Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, National Trust urged the officials of Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh to organize similar webinar for taking up the issues related to Divyangjan in their UTs. He informed that the officials of National Trust and DEPwD shall also participate in the webinar. He also informed that National Trust has already sent the amendment in the National Trust Act, 1999 to the DEPwD and that instead of using Mental Retardation we should use intellectually disabled.
Due to exigency, Sh. Asheesh Singh, IAS, District Magistrate, Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh could not present but Mr. Pankaj Maru, SNEH, Nagda presented on behalf of him. Apart from the mandated responsibilities related to Local Level Committee (LLC) and legal guardianship, the Ujjain District Authorities have been very sensitive and proactive towards dealing with the subject. They hold monthly LLC meetings, all important Govt. officials whose assistance is required for deciding on guardianship are present in the meeting. The world’s largest accessible garden has been developed in Ujjain. The famous Mahakaleshwar Temple is fully accessible for Divyangjans. For the survey of Divyangjans a mobile app is already in place which is used by Gram Sachivs. The Diyas prepared by Divyangjans are distributed in the entire district administrative offices giving financial empowerment to these persons. Mr. Maru also highlighted the salient features of the Niramaya Health Insurance Scheme and its uniqueness as compared to Ayushman Bharat Scheme.
Sh KK Shrivastava, Vivekanand running Gharaunda-Lifelong shelter home for Adults with these Disabilities share his experience of running the project for the enrichment of the participants. It was appreciated by all that even during the COVID pandemic the adults residing in Gharaunda continued there itself after following all COVID related protocols and no one suffered with the infection. The recreation activities are conducted regularly which have shown improvements in the adults. The beneficiaries are trained in paper bag making and are also earning through this activity.
At the end, Ms. Sheetal Nanda, Secretary, Social Welfare, J&K shared the key points emerging out of the meeting. She expressed the very important role of the District Magistrates in implementing the services with the expertise of NGOs working in the sector. She stressed that as a starter we must be aware of the no. of Divyangjans to whom we have to provide services. She requested all the DMs to conduct surveys immediately for the purpose. While giving the example of accessible garden created by DM Ujjain, she urged all DMs from now on all buildings to be constructed should be not only accessible for physically disabled but also to intellectual disabilities also. The Ujjain model was very much appreciated by her and she requested all DMs to think of arranging premium amount which is a very negligible amount for Divyangjan of their district so that they can benefit through Niramaya Health Insurance Scheme with a cover of Rs.1.00 lakh.
She urged DMs to rope in District Legal Services Authorities so that the legal rights of these Divyaangjans to be protected. She repeated the phrase mentioned in Mr. Pankaj Maru’s presentation that these Divyangjans don’t need pity but need opportunities. Rather waiting for Divyangjan to come to us for any help we must reach to them for all requirements. So we need to be proactive in all our actions.