Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Thursday called for assistance from the Union Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment to help the State declare Papum-Pare, the district with the highest population, as ‘disability-free’ by December 2018.
Speaking at the Samajik Adhikarita Shivir, a free-of-cost distribution of aids and assistive devices camp for people with disabilities at the Dorjee Khandu State Convention Centre here, Khandu said the State Government plans to work in mission mode to make the entire State disability-free starting with Papum Pare as a pilot project.
As per the 2011 census, Arunachal Pradesh has a total population of 1383727 and according to the National Sample Survey 2001, there are 33315 disabled persons, which is 3 pc of the total population, a notch higher than the national average.
Khandu viewed that 3 pc is a substantial chunk of the population and it is the responsibility of the Government to equip and enable this 3 pc population to contribute in the growth of the State at par with their normal counterparts.
Hailing the camp and the presence of Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot along with top officials, Khandu said it was an opportunity for him and the State Government to gain knowledge of the various schemes and welfare projects being implemented by the Central Government.
Admitting that even the nodal department of the State Government – Department of Social Justice, Empowerment and Tribal Affairs (SJETA) – will not be fully aware of all the schemes being implemented by the Central Government for persons with disabilities, Khandu exhorted departmental officials headed by the Commissioner to learn from the experience and set on to work with renewed determination.
He informed that the State Government through SJETA is implementing the Chief Minister’s Disability Pension scheme – a flagship programme of the State Government – that offers financial assistance of Rs 1000 per month as economic rehabilitation.
During 2017-18 a total amount of Rs 82,08000 was disbursed to 684 beneficiaries across the State.
Further, under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), the State Government adds Rs 1700 to Centre’s Rs 300 giving a total subsistence of Rs 2000 per month to persons with disabilities in the age group of 60 to 79 years.
Likewise, the State adds Rs 1500 to the Centre’s Rs 500 and pays Rs 2000 per month to beneficiaries above the age of 80.
Referring to the Union Ministry’s assistance to deaf and dumb children to go for Cochlear implant – surgically implanting an electronic medical device that bypasses the damaged hair cells of the inner ear to provide sound signals to the brain – Khandu said the State needs to take full advantage of it. The ministry offers Rs 6 lakh per child covering the entire process of implanting.
Expressing gratitude to the union minister for approving establishment of a Composite Regional Centre (CRC) in the State last year, the Chief Minister regretted that the State Government couldn’t take the advantage.
He directed the SJETA Commissioner to take note of it and immediately acquire a suitable plot of land and follow up with the ministry.
The CM also directed the department to fast-track the process of enrolling and provision of Unique ID for Person with Disabilities (UDID) for implementation of UDID Project and Card generation.
Khandu further requested the union ministry to consider opening up of a manufacturing unit of the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation Ltd (ALIMCO), a Government of India undertaking, in Arunachal Pradesh that would cater to the entire northeastern region.
He pointed that ALIMCO, which manufactures aids and assistive devices for persons with disabilities, has only four Auxiliary Production Centres at Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Jabalpur (MP), Bengaluru (Karnataka), and Chanalon (Punjab) with just one Outreach Centre at Guwahati.
Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment, Thaawarchand Gehlot while responding to Khandu’s requests said he would be happy to grant all and asked the State Government to submit the proposals to his ministry immediately.
“Submit the proposals and I assure approval within a month,” the union minister announced.
Union minister Gehlot, however, requested the State Government to immediately appoint an independent State Commissioner for persons with disabilities so that schemes and funds can flow from the Centre seamlessly. At present, the Commissioner of SJETA holds the additional charge of Commissioner for persons with disabilities.
Talking about the Cochlear implant and the assistance provided by his ministry, Gehlot informed that till date 1220 children below the age of six, including one from Arunachal Pradesh, have been provided with the free implant that costs about Rs 6 lakh each.
He appealed to the people to write to the ministry with proper address and details if they know any child below six years who can’t hear and speak and assured the Government would immediately provide the assistance.
The union minister expressed satisfaction over the camp being held in Arunachal Pradesh wherein 957 persons with disabilities, including senior citizens, have been provided with aids and assistive devices amounting to Rs 67.37 lakh free of cost.
He informed that in the last five years, the ministry has organized 7150 such camps benefitting 11 lakh persons and costing Rs 620 crore.
Also present on the occasion were deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, Union MoS Home Kiren Rijiju, State Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Nabam Rebia, secretary to the Union Ministry Shakuntala D Gamlin, Union joint secretary, officials from ALIMCO and State Government officials.