[AI] Odisha: Dept boon for special citizens

avinash shahi shahi88avinash at gmail.com
Thu Jul 2 00:18:08 PDT 2015

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today inaugurated the social security
and empowerment of persons with disabilities department. For the
moment, it would function from the premises of state institute of
disability rehabilitation at the Capital Hospital.
Minister of women and child development Usha Devi is heading the department.

Till now, there was only a directorate working under the women and
child welfare department for the persons with disabilities, but there
was no full-fledged department and nothing whatsoever for the welfare
of senior citizens and transgenders.

Commissioner-cum-secretary of the department Saswat Mishra, who now
also heads the new department, said creation of a separate department
for these categories of citizens had become imperative.

"This department has been created to reduce the burden on the women
and child development department to look into the problems of these
vulnerable categories. The directorate of disability welfare will be
merged into this new department," said Mishra.

Mishra said this new department would also deal with social security
pensions of the state and central governments.

Activists working for welfare of the differently-abled people have
welcomed the move and expressed hope that the state co-ordination and
executive committees mandated under the Persons with Disabilities
(PWD) Act, 1995, would also be created shortly.

"These two committees will ensure that various governmental schemes
meant for the differently-abled people are properly implemented. The
committees should be formed with complete transparency, otherwise the
department would fail to meet its objectives," said disability
activist Sruti Mohapatra.

She said the new department should focus on education, employment,
accessibility and research. "The department should have a senior
administrative officer as the secretary, and he should dedicate
himself completely to this work," said Mohapatra.

Welcoming the move, senior citizens said that apart from dealing with
matters pertaining to pensions under various government schemes for
them, the department should also work for their social security and
safety. "The government must ensure that the senior citizens get their
due credit and their lives are safe and secure socially and
economically," said Krupasindhu Sahu, vice-president of the All-India
Senior Citizens' Federation.

The transgenders also welcomed the move and said the government should
adopt new policies for them and start welfare schemes. "We hope the
government will look into our problems and take steps to help us lead
a respectable life," said Meera, a transgender.

Avinash Shahi
Doctoral student at Centre for Law and Governance JNU

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