NGOs fear India's report to UN could be a white wash

NGOs fear India's report to UN could be a white wash

 The report, despite being prepared by the Centre, is largely a consolidation of reports received from the state governments, some of whom, according to activists, are not even aware of the Convention. “An NGO from Rajasthan called us last week telling that the state government is asking what UNCRPD stands for and what the report should contain,” said a Delhi-based activist.

Such queries have raised fear amongst NGOs that the report India is scheduled to release in May would be a total whitewash. “The country-wide report will be based on the inputs state governments would provide,” an activist from Karnataka, who wished not to be named, told Deccan Herald.

“There has not been any independent verification of the claims made by the state disability commissioners, who author the reports at the state level. If we raise questions, we are brushed aside as troublemakers. Without serious questioning of the claims, they are accepted at the government level as truths and are mentioned in the report,” he said, pointing to the lack of transparency and independent verification mechanism to check the claims made in the reports.

In each block

According to the 2008-09 report for Karnataka -prepared by the Commissioner's Office for Disabilities- the state has appointed Village Rehabilitation Workers (VRWs) for every village panchayat and one Multi-purpose Rehabilitation Worker (MRWs) in each block. In total, the report says, 5,828 rehabilitation workers have been appointed and the government has also reported to have ensured they are persons with disability.

It also mentions that about 37 traffic signals in three city corporations have been provided with auditory signals.

“This appears fine on the report, but there is no one to verify the claims,” said Indhumadhi Rao, Regional Advisor for CBR (Community-Based Rehabilitation ) Network for SAARC.

“The government claims that they have allocated Rs 74 crore for the disability related programmes. The numbers (of disabled persons) they claim to have benefited from such programmes are far in excess of the number of disabled persons in their own records.

“As field workers, we don't see any of those seeming benefits impacting persons with disability. We have plans to write to the government for a white paper on implementation of the programmes,” Rao said.

She also mentioned that the government's fund allocation for disability programmes for the village panchayats has been blocked by the directorate of disability welfare citing some technicality. “It is basically the government's commitment to release the funds and it is up to the government to sort out the ways of doing it,” she said.