CM seeks Centre’s assistance in making Arunachal disability-free

ITANAGAR, Jun 7: Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Thursday sought assistance from the union social justice & empowerment ministry to help the state declare Papum Pare, the district with the highest population, as disability-free by December 2018.
Speaking at the Samajik Adhikarita Shivir, a free-of-cost distribution of aids and assistive devices camp for people with disabilities, at the Dorjee Khandu State Convention Centre here, the CM said the state government is on a mission mode to make the entire state disability-free, starting with Papum Pare as a pilot project.
As per the 2011 census, Arunachal Pradesh has a total population of 13,83,727, and according to the 2001 National Sample Survey, there are 33,315 disabled persons, who comprise 3% of its total population – a notch higher than the national average.
“It is the responsibility of the government to equip and enable this 3% population to contribute in the growth of the state at par with their normal counterparts,” Pema said.
Admitting that even the nodal department of the state government – social justice, empowerment & tribal affairs (SJETA) – would not be fully aware of all the schemes for persons with disabilities being implemented by the central government, Pema exhorted the department’s officials, headed by the commissioner, to work with renewed determination.
He said the state government, through the SJETA, is implementing the Chief Minister’s Disability Pension Scheme – a flagship programme of the state government that offers financial assistance of Rs 1000 per month as economic rehabilitation.
During 2017-18 a total amount of Rs 8, 28,000 was disbursed to 684 beneficiaries across the state.
Further, under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), the state government adds Rs 1700 to the Centre’s Rs 300, giving a total subsistence of Rs 2000 per month to persons with disabilities in the age group of 60 to 79 years.
Likewise, the state adds Rs 1500 to the Centre’s Rs 500 and pays Rs 2000 per month to beneficiaries above the age of 80.
Referring to the union ministry’s assistance to deaf and dumb children to go for cochlear implant (surgically implanting an electronic medical device that bypasses the damaged hair cells of the inner ear to provide sound signals to the brain), Pema said the state needs to take full advantage of it.
“The ministry offers Rs 6 lakhs per child, covering the entire process of implant,” he informed.
Expressing gratitude to the union ministry for approving the establishment of a composite regional centre in the state last year, the chief minister expressed regret that the state government could not take advantage of it then. He directed the SJETA commissioner to take note of it and immediately acquire a suitable plot of land and follow up with the ministry.
He also directed the department to fast-track the process of enrolling and provision of unique ID to persons with disabilities (UDID) for the implementation of the UDID project and card generation.
Pema requested the union ministry to consider opening a manufacturing unit of the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation Ltd (ALIMCO) in Arunachal that would cater to the entire North East region.
Responding to Pema’s requests, Union Social Justice & Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said he would be happy to grant them all, and asked the state government to submit the proposals to his ministry immediately.
“Submit the proposals and I assure approval within a month,” he announced.
He also requested the state government to immediately appoint an independent state commissioner for persons with disabilities, so that schemes and funds may flow from the centre seamlessly. At present the SJETA commissioner holds the additional charge of commissioner of persons with disabilities.
Talking about the cochlear implant and the assistance provided by his ministry, Gehlot informed that till date, 1220 children below the age of six, including one from Arunachal Pradesh, have been provided with the free implants that usually costs about Rs 6 lakhs each.
He appealed to the people to write to the ministry, “with proper address and details,” if they have or know of any child below six who cannot hear and speak, and assured that the government would immediately provide the assistance.
The union minister expressed satisfaction over the camp being held in Arunachal Pradesh. Altogether 957 persons with disabilities, including senior citizens, were provided with aids and assistive devices amounting to Rs 67.37 lakhs free of cost.
He informed that in the last five years, the ministry has organized 7150 such camps, benefiting 11 lakh persons and costing Rs 620 crore.
Also present on the occasion were Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, Union MoS for Home Kiren Rijiju, State Social Justice & Empowerment Minister Nabam Rebia, Secretary to the Union Ministry Shakuntala D Gamlin, officials from ALIMCO, and state government officials. (CMO)