Appeal for implementing Rights of Persons with Disabilities act in Assam

Twenty eight-year old Namita Haloi, who suffers from visual impairment, has braved all the odds of her life. She not only works for a telecom company to earn her livelihood but also spearheads a movement seeking rights for the differently-abled persons in Assam.

Haloi who represents an organization called State Level Federation of Disabled People’s Organization for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities or SELF, in short, and Assam Centre for Rural Development (ACRD), have come together to ask the state government to implement the Rights of Persons with Disabilities act 2016.

They said even after two years of passing the bill in the parliament, differently-abled persons have been suffering from various problems in their day-to-day life.

The Lok Sabha passed the bill on December 16, 2016. The bill then replaced the 21-year-old PwD Act, 1995.

According to the new act, disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept and the types of disabilities have been increased from seven to 21. The act also added that the central government will have the power to add more types of disabilities.

“Public and private buildings are still not accessible for us. We face a lot of problems because of this. Even the ATMs are not user-friendly. I believe without the government’s intervention, true inclusion of disabled people in the society will never become a reality,” said Namita Haloi, general secretary of SELF.

In Assam, around four lakh population is found to be differently-abled. They also alleged that the District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRC) set up by the ministry of social justice and empowerment are also not yet fully active in addressing the issues.

“Besides, the funds of Rs 10 lakh of the MPs are rarely utilized. We face a lot of problems in railway reservations,” added Haloi.

Haloi, who suffers from visual impairment, has been working with a major telecom company in Guwahati as a data-entry operator besides carrying out the responsibilities of addressing the issues faced by the differently-abled persons for her organization.

“It has been a very difficult journey. But, things have changed over the years. Earlier, we were addressed not by our names but with the problem which we are suffering from. We need more awareness and government must act,” she added.

Prerna Changkakati, executive director of ACRD, said that the act must come into play to make the lives of the differently-abled persons easier.