New law soon to replace Persons with Disabilities Act: Govt

This was announced by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik during a seminar on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Commonwealth here today.
Admitting that that provisions of the present act does fall short of the provisions of UNCRPD in certain respects, Wasnik said a high-level committee of stakeholders, set up by the government, will draft a new legislation to replace the PwD Act.The Seminar was jointly organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat, and National Human Rights Commission.

"The committee is going about its work in a participative manner and its recommendations are due by March-end this year. Once its recommendations become available, we would take prompt action to replace the PwD Act with a new legislation, which would be suitably aligned with the UNCRPD," Wasnik said.

He said that action was underway separately to revise three other legislations, which concern persons with disabilities -- The National Trust Act (for people with developmental disabilities), The Rehabilitation Council of India Act and The Mental Health Act.

Later, addressing mediapersons, Purna Sen, head of human rights, Commonwealth secretariat, said representatives from six nations participated in the discussions and among the recommendations were increased ratification of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, improved role and voice for disabled people in shaping initiatives, specially addressing areas of employment and education and strengthening of advocacy network.

"According to Indian government statistics, as per the 2001 Census, 2.1 per cent of the population come under the category of disabled. We expect that figure to be more in the next Census and there is an even larger need to increase awareness about their rights," Sen said.

Shuaib Chalkalen, UN special rapporteur on disabilities, said two key areas of concern for disabled persons were access to employment and access to education and it was their attempt to improve the network among the countries that have adopted and ratified the UN Convention.

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