Visually-challenged plan PIL against Govt

Visually-challenged plan PIL against Govt

Repeated efforts to get the State Government to initiate steps to identify posts in A, B, C and D categories as promised under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995, have borne no response at all.

Section 32 of the Act mandates every appropriate government to identify such jobs in public sector which can be performed and reserved for persons with different kind of disabilities. Of the three per cent jobs for People With Disabilities (PWD), one per cent is reserved for people who are blind or have poor vision. What is more, this list has to be revised every three years.

The State Governemnt identified a list for Group C and D categories in 2002, but only 33 of the 100 departments responded to the list.

Gautam C Agarwal of National Federation of the Blind says that in September 2005, the government issued an order identifying jobs for persons with disabilities under the A and B category, following a Court order to the effect.

“This list was very limited and only identified a few jobs for persons with disabilities, especially those with visual impairment. There was neither any committee constituted nor the representatives from the disability sector consulted for the identification of jobs in group A and B,” he says.

The flipside of the order was that it excluded certain jobs that were previously open to persons who are blind and those with poor vision.

Every move of the State government seems to be shortsighted in this regard. The list for A and B category was revised in August 2009, but came with a clause saying that a medical person has to not only confirm the degree of blindness, but certifying their competence on the job. This clause was found highly objectionable as a doctor was in no position to certify someone’s ability to perform on the job. Despite verbal assurances from officials that it would be withdrawn, the order stands.

A list in 2009 identified a mere 29-30 posts as opposed to nearly 300 identified by the Centre. While other States identified posts across all departments, Karnataka chose to ask each department to send in their list of suitable jobs, leading to complications. For example, a department may choose the post of a phone operator as suitable for a blind person, but another department may not concur.

This is the plight after appointing an expert committee headed by the Secretary of the Department of Women and Child Development (DCWD). The Committee has no members of the visually challenged community who can give a better idea of what jobs could be performed keeping in mind the latest technological advances, claims Agarwal.