The first meeting of the State Advisory Board on disabilities constituted under the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPWD) was held today under the chairmanship of Mrs. Razia Sultana, Minister of Social Security, Women & Child Development. The purpose of the meeting was to review the working of different Mentally Retarded Homes being operated in the districts.Disclosing this in a press communique Mrs. Razia Sultana said that that with the inclusion of 14 new disabilities total 21 disabilities would be covered under this Act and the financial and other benefits of other social security schemes would be extended to more number of disabled persons. She said that at present 4 Mentally Retarded Homes are being operated in the districts namely at Amritsar, Ludhiana, Kapurthala and Rajpura (Patiala). She said that Homes at Kapurthala and Amritsar are meant for girls whereas Mentally Retarded Homes at Ludhiana and Rajpura are being operated for boys only. The Minister said to evaluate the condition of these Mentally Retarded Homes, committees under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioners has been constituted for the four concerned districts. These Committees will consist of the representative of Health Department, Social Security Department, Education Department, Sports Department and one prominent NGO working for the welfare of Mentally Retarded Children. She said that this committee has been mandated to evaluate the working of Mentally Retarded Homes within 3 weeks and to suggest the remedial measures to overcome the deficiencies in these Homes.
The Minister further said that the Punjab Government has invited the suggestions and comments from the general Public and other stakeholder on the draft Rules framed under the RPWD, Act-2016. She said that the draft of Rules have been uploaded on the Punjab Government’s website.The Social Security Minister said that the previous 07 disabilities were Blindness, Low vision, Leprosy – cured, Hearing impairment, Loco motor disability, Mental retardation, Mental illness. She said that as per new Act the 21 disabilities are covered under the 08 Groups namely (i) Loco motor Disability (ii) Visual impairment (iii) Hearing impairment (iv) Chronic neurological conditions (v) Persons affected with blood related disorders (vi) Developmental disorders (vii) Mental illness; and (viii) Multiple disabilities. These 08 groups contain 14 new disabilities like Leprosy cured person, cerebral palsy, dwarfism, Acid Attack victims, Autism, Learning Disabilities, muscular dystrophy, deaf, Hard of hearing, multiple sclerosis, parkinson's disease, hemophilia, thalassemia, sickle cell disease.
Mrs. Razia Sultana further added that in the new Act punitive provisions have also been incorporated for the contravention of the provisions of the Act and Rules. She said that any person who contravenes any of the provisions of this Act shall be punished with fine upto Rs 10,000 and in case contravention is repeated he may be fined with not less than Rs 50,000 and it can be extended to 5 lakhs.The Minister said that other important provision of this Act is increasing reservation to the disabled persons in Government jobs from 3% to 4%. The reservation to disabled students in Higher education is extended from 3% to 5%. The disabled students’ upto the age of 18 years would be given free education. Instructions in this regard are being issued shortly. She asked the department to fill the backlog vacancies for disabled persons on priority.Prominent amongst other who were present in the meeting included Mr. K.B.S Sidhu, Special Chief Secretary, Social Security, Mrs. Kavita Singh, Director Social Security, K.K Yadav, Special Secretary, Housing & Urban Development, Mr. D.K Tiwari, Secretary, Expenditure, Mr. P.K Goyal, Director General School Education, Mr. Harbans Singh, Deputy Secretary, Personnel and other senior officers of the department of Higher Education, Health, State Transport, Rural Development, Sports and Youth Services, Labour Department and Personnel Department.