Showing posts with label Subhash Vashishth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Subhash Vashishth. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Guidelines for Comments - Facilities for Govt. Employees with Disabilities for efficient performance of duties

Dear Colleagues,

Some of you would know that the Office of Chief Commissioner - Disabilities had organised a workshop titled "Consultative Workshop for framing draft guidelines for creation of non-disabling work environment for Government Employees with Disabilities to enable them to function smoothly in Government service."  on 28 May 2013 at IIC, Delhi. 

After the day long deliberations, wherein delegates from the disability sector, NGOs, government employees, national institutes etc.  participated. I had the opportunity to compile the draft on behalf of the CCPD office which was subsequently sent to the DoPT. Click here for a copy of the said draft hereinafter called CCPD's June 2013 Draft

Now, almost after 8 months, the DoPT has come out with the final version of the document titled "Guidelines for providing certain facilities in respect of persons with disabilities who are already employed in Govt. for efficient performance of their duties" dated 14th Feb 2014 which is also uploaded on their website inviting comments from Ministries/ Departments. Click here for a copy of the said DoPT draft dt 14 Feb 14

I can with reasonable credibility, having been a participant at the CCPD's Workshop on 28 May 2013, and having contributed and compiled the CCPD's draft can safely conclude today that the draft has been diluted to a great extent. Despite that, I believe notification of the guidelines is a good step and it will not only help integrating employees with disabilities at workplace in govt but also and offer guidance to private players. However, here is a brief evaluation of the guideline.

Good things that have been accepted in the DoPT draft:
  1. Placing the employee with an experienced employee for at least a month on resuming responsibilities of a post - that will allow him to pick up required skills to perform the job and also explore the adaptations needed in individual cases.
  2. Provision of assistive devices/ aids - good quality assistive devices, special chairs, software etc to improve the efficiency has been accepted in principle with a review every three years for upgraded versions. It requires the departments to provide for the cost of equipment or its reimbursement to the employee.
  3. Special casual leave of 15 days per annum - mainly for inpatient treatment in CGHS.  I hope this is in addition to the existing sick leaves and all other leaves.
  4. Every ministry/department to arrange training in "Disability Equality and Etiquette" for their liaison officers in consultation with CCPD. 
Some glaring issues that are visible on a cursory reading in the DoPT draft are:
  1. At the outset, the document doesn't come across as a rights giving document, it looks more like a doles giving document to the employees with disabilities.
  2. There are no budgetary provisions made nor there is any system created to evaluate or assess the needs of employees with disabilities. Hence the entire "amenities" are likely to be more subjective.
  3. It is seeking comments from ministries and not from general public or associations of employees with disabilities.
  4. It gives no legal sanctity to the disabled employee unions to discuss their issues as mandated by the UNCRPD.
  5. When compared with the CCPD draft,  you will realise how 21 page draft has been reduced in to 4 pager policy. This has resulted in either things getting  left out or made so vague that it may be difficult to seek its implementation.
  6. It misses out the reasonable accommodations needed for employees with disabilities to perform to the fullest.
  7. Due to limited applicability, it is feared by some quarters that it may not help employees in Banks etc. though I feel these would be equally applicable to employees in scheduled banks as well as those working under Ministry of Finance. 
  8. Also it is not indicated as a guiding document for the State governments who may have a job identification list for persons with disabilities different from the one notified by the Union of India. 
  9. The DoPT has sought comments from the ministries and is likely to be finalised without any final involvement of the stakeholders..... which is against the basic theme of UNCRPD - "nothing about us without us". That is what the government had done even with the RPD Bill 2013 when it was quietly pushed in to parliament in utmost secrecy without involving the stakeholders.
  10. In the Identification of jobs, there is inherent bias visible in the guidelines when  it says that each ministry ..... should identify the types of jobs which could be easily performed by them specially for group B, C & D...... Why should Group A be excluded? Do they think that disabled employees are not capable of holding Group A post or performing functions of Group A posts?

I am leaving it to you to compare the two drafts available on the links above, and see for yourself how can a well meaning document be turned into a weak policy document nurtured with a charity mindset!

Here is the coverage in The Hindu on the subject today:

18 Feb 2014, AARTI DHAR

Proposals include preferences in transfers, postings and accommodation, reimbursement for assistive devices and special casual leave

The Central government has come up with a set of draft guidelines on providing certain facilities to its employees with disabilities to help them perform their duties efficiently.

The guidelines, released on Monday, include proposals such as preferences in transfers, postings and accommodation, reimbursement for assistive devices and special casual leave. Additionally, all ministries and departments, subordinate offices, PSUs, government companies, and cantonment boards would also have to identify the type of jobs that such employees may easily perform.

As far as possible, persons with disabilities will be exempted from rotational transfer and will be allowed to continue in the same job where they would have achieved the desired performance. Preference in place of posting at the time of transfer or promotion may be given to the persons with disability.

The induction training — an essential component of an employee’s service requirement — of all employees should take place together. Job-specific post-recruitment and pre- promotion training programmes are required to be organised for persons with disabilities.

The guidelines instruct ministries and departments to provide or reimburse, within a specific time frame, the cost of special assistive devices in accordance with the prices fixed by them in consultation with various national institutes specialising in disability care.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Reality check of Accessiblity at Post Office: Lodi Road

Dear Friends,

Please refer to my earlier post - Post offices in Delhi are inaccessible but Department claims otherwise, incorporating media coverage on pathetic situation prevailing in the Post Offices of Delhi and the awareness level of the senior officials of the Department of Post on the Accessibility.

I had a reality check of accessibility status of the post office at Jor Bagh in the NDMC area which claims to be better off then most MCD controlled areas when it comes to accessibility in the public infrastructure.

The reality check /access audit  photos speak for themselves here:

Picture of the Lodi Road Post Office Signage
This Lodi Road Post Office is in a posh colony of South Delhi under
the New Delhi Municipal Council.

Picture of road side eatery blocking the pedestrian pathway
This protruding counter of this eatery on the pedestrian pathway
leading to the post office blocks the pedestrian movement 
Photo showing absence of kerb ramp on the pedestrian pathway leading to post office
The pedestrian pathway leading to the Post Office
doesn't have a kerb ramp or kerb cut. 

Photo showing decked up entrance with offers of 7% off on gold coins but access blocked by barriers
The Gate at the post office fails to welcome me. The barriers
and the huge kerb stare at me!

photo showing blocked access
These barriers purportedly placed to stop entry of vehicles also act
as barrier to my independent mobility, thereby nullifying the benefits
of the ramps provided!

photo showing ramp without handrails
From the entrance two slope ramps like a U are provided but
with no handrails or signage!

Ramp ends with a thud without and tactile indication. The ramp
edge is a trip hazard on both ends.

Similarly the other side of the ramp has no handrails  and
ends with an threshold which is a trip hazard.

Photo showing stepped entry to post office, high counters and use of granite flooring which is slippery
Entrance 1 is stepped and granite has been used in the post office
which makes it slippery and inaccessible to the visitors with disabilities.

Entrance 2 is also stepped with a similar pattern. The counter height
on both sides is inaccessible to those with disabilities and
caters to only standing persons.
When the reality check at the prominent areas under NDMC is so alarming what do we expect of the other post offices in Delhi, especially the ones in the areas served by MCD where the civil amenities are even more pathetic. This is in gross violation of the prevalent norms of barrier free environment.

Another reality check coming week in an area served by MCD !

SC Vashishth

DDA's revision of its Lift Installation Policy still faulty

Dear Colleagues,

In view of problems faced by senior citizens, persons with disabilities and patients residing in upper floors of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) Flats and also in light of legal mandate of The Persons with Disabilities Act (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act 1995 and the State's obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that India has ratified, the DDA has revised its erstwhile policy on Procedure for issue of NOC for installation of lifts in Group housing flats built by DDA to remove the bottlenecks in facilitating ageing in place and barrier free environment in the old residential flats/ group housing societies.

The back ground

A good number of people  who bought the DDA flats  long time ago when were young have acquired age related disabilities, ailments that restrict mobility and family members, children who have difficulty negotiating stairs. The restriction in policy has rendered them prisoners in their own "once happy homes". This is against the right to independent mobility, equal participation, Accessibility in built infrastructure and housing as  mandated by the UNCRPD and the Disability legislation of India.

All the new DDA buildings have the lifts, but earlier the provision of lift wasn't mandatory up to  four-storey buildings.  However, subsequently the DDA had permitted the residents of upper floors who were in favour of installing lift to permit installation subjection to certain condition, and one among them was NOC from ground floor owner.

"I haven't gone out of my house for over two years now due to arthritis since I can not climb stairs and my flat is on first floor" said Ms. Arora, a retired teacher aged 65 and a resident of DDA Flats, Mayapuri, New Delhi.

What changes after the revision in DDA's policy?

With a revision in policy on lift installation in DDA buildings by the Authority, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) is not needed any more from the ground floor owner.  According to the previous policy, the upper floor residents were required to acquire a NOC from all the floor owners to permit them to install a lift in the building.  But a disagreement by the ground floor owner was usually posing a problem for others to implement the concept.

As per the new policy,  the occupants of the upper floors wanting to install lift in their buildings will just need to obtain NOCs from the upper floor occupants,  a recommendation of the lift manufacturing agency on technical convenience, location of the lift and safety criteria and of course a structural safety certificate from a registered architect.  The expense for the lift installation would have to be equally shared by the people owning flats in upper floors.

Why even the revised policy fails to deliver?

However, the catch is, can my right as a person with disability or as a senior citizen with mobility impairments subject to NOCs from the neighbours? Its known that in old age, one gets cranky and many do not get along well with neighbours. In such a case the state has given my absolute right to mobility and independent living  in the hands of non-cooperating neighbours in other words - non state actors!

If the neighbour says I don't need it and I will not pool in the money,  the person who requires the lift due to reduced mobility has to not only foot the entire cost of installation of lift but also pay a certain fee to the DDA (as if it was a luxury!).

Therefore, in my considered opinion, this is still not in tune with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Constitution of India. The State has to come with clearly with plans and implement them without delay for every delay is justice denied. Nothing less than this is acceptable to us as citizens of this country.

Relevant Useful Links:

-- Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Advocate

TAGS: DDA Flats with Elevator, Lifts in DDA buildings, Process of lift installation in DDA Building, Barrier Free DDA housing,  Accessible housing, Barrier Free environment, accessibility in housing, ageing in place, Subhash Vashishth,

Friday, August 31, 2012

Death toll 228 at Asha Kiran since 2005, unabated

Dear Colleagues,

Those of you who work with person with multiple disabilities have seen them living ordinary life if given proper medication for epilepsy and care. However, there is utter chaos at Asha Kiran centre where no one want to take the blame for the deaths which are happening in the Govt. run institution. The centre says it is the severe mental retardation and epileptic fits that is leading to deaths while the court appointed committee and any person involved or with experience in caring for a person with multiple disabilities would say that it is unhygienic conditions, lack of medical facilities and mismanagement at the Asha Kiran which is resulting in avoidable deaths. Human life doesn't seem to have a value here.

I wanted to share a personal experience of one and half year back. One day on my way to work, I suddenly saw, a person with mental disability roaming on the ring road and then sitting under a flyover. I really got worried about his life and always thought some day some vehicle might strike him down and I thought of admitting him to the state run centres where he will be cared. Sooner, I realised the pathetic condition of the Centres that we are discussing here, I decided not to even think that way. I consulted several of my friends who expressed that this person may live a better, safe and longer life under a flyover than a State run Centre and that I should stop thinking of making efforts to have him shifted to a "safer" place like Asha Kiran.

Today after more than one and half year, when I continue to see him every day at the same place while on way to work, I feel how mistaken I was. He is at least happy & safe here and leading his life though with help from passer byes. I am sure if I had decided otherwise, I wouldn't see him alive!

Here is the news from Hindustan Times of 31st Aug 2012 giving you the update:

At Asha Kiran, 228 inmates have died since 2005

The Delhi government has admitted that 228 deaths have taken place at Asha Kiran, the Capital’s lone home for mentally challenged children and adults, since 2005. In an affidavit filed recently before the Delhi High Court hearing a PIL complaining of lack of medical care and shockingly  unhygienic conditions at the home in Rohini, the Delhi government said 59 inmates died in 2005-06, 28 in 2006-07, 34 in 2007-08, 37 in 2008-09, 46 in 2009-10, 11 in 2010-11 and 13 in 2011-July 2012.

During a hearing on August 8, the court had slammed the government for the inhuman manner in which the inmates were kept at the home and termed it the "worst kind of human rights violation". The court was perusing a report submitted by a court-appointed committee which inspected the premises of the welfare home.

Expressing shock at the revelation of 228 deaths, human rights activist and a member of the court-appointed committee Colin Gonsalves said: "This figure is high but the government feels it is low. They thought that by stating it on an affidavit it would save them before the court. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has repeatedly said deaths were taking place at the home due to negligence."

A bench of acting chief justice AK Sikri and justice RS Endlaw is to take a stand on the issue on Friday. The government denied the deaths were due to negligence and mismanagement. "Biological factors play a major role in high mortality rates among the mentally-challenged persons. A large number of inmates at Asha Kiran fall in the categories of severe and profound mental retardation with multiple disabilities and suffering from epileptic fits. Studies show that such types of individual keep very shortened life expectancy," the government said.

DP Bharal, deputy director with the department of social welfare, said in an affidavit: "From 59 deaths in 2005-2006, the same has come down to 13 in 2011-12. None of the deaths occurred due to negligence. The inmates who died were extreme cases of mental retardation or having chronic medical ailments."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Media has a larger role in breaking disability stereotypes

Dear Colleagues,

Here is an article on a workshop conducted by DLU (North East), Shishu Saroti, Guwahati
 on the role of Media vis-a-vis the Disability Sector"  published in The Sentinel. Several such initiatives are needed for most sectors since it is the wrong portrayal of persons with disabilities that reinforces the  age old prejudices and biases. 

Not because it is done intentionally but there is lack of awareness among the masses, the society, the media, the judiciary, the government babus, the medical and para-medical fraternity and above all the  family members of persons with disabilities and worst - persons with disabilities themselves!. Such eye-opening sessions are needed for every one and should be conducted more often in schools & colleges too!  

Media should adopt a rights-based approach rather than a charity approach while reporting about persons with disabilities. — Arman Ali

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 17: “People with disabilities are often perceived as different by normal people. They are also discriminated against. This is unfortunate and should not happen. Disabled people too have hopes and aspirations like normal people. They should not be made to feel as if they are different and should be given equal opportunity to move forward in life, like the rest,” said Shishu Sarothi executive director Arman Ali while addressing an orientation programme held in Guwahati today on the topic ‘Role of Media vis-a-vis the Disability Sector’. The programme was organized for mediapersons by the Disability Law Unit- Northeast, Shishu Sarothi.

Ali further said, “The families of disabled persons should accept them with their weaknesses and strengths. A proper environment should be created at home so that they can feel encouraged to pursue their dreams.” He added, “Unfortunately, the government is also not doing enough for the disabled people. It should make provisions for such persons.”
He called upon the media to adopt a rights-based approach rather than a charity approach while reporting about persons with disabilities.

Speaking at the programme, senior journalist Prabal Das said, “In India, even though social and humanitarian issues get written about in newspapers and magazines, the disability issue has not been highlighted much. Media should portray disability in such a way so as to help increase awareness throughout society about the realities faced by disabled persons, reduce stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices. Shishu Sarothi, which is building hope among the disabled people, should guide the media on how to portray the disability issue.”
Das lamented the fact that the Indian media usually highlights the disability issue during the Para Olympics.

Disability Law Unit-Northeast assistant project coordinator Amvalika Senapati said that as per the 2001 census, there were 5,30,300 disabled persons in Assam. As per the WHO report, 2011, there are 31,16,927 persons with disabilities in Assam.

She said, “Disability, whether mental or physical, does not disable a person. Discrimination, social stigma and poverty does. The media exerts a powerful influence on the way people with disabilities are perceived. It is important that persons with disabilities that they are portray realistically and that their disabilities are explained accurately.”

Examples of denial of right to education in respect of children with disability in the various districts of Assam, inaccessible public places and empathy of various authorities in implementing the laws and schemes in respect of persons with disabilities was highlighted by her. She highlighted how there were no provisions for disabled persons in railways stations and the ISBT.

During the programme, many points were highlighted. The media, it was said, should raise awareness about the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, bring discussion of disability into the public arena to challenge the idea of it as a taboo subject, promote policies, products and services that support full participation and development of disabled persons, avoid labels like ‘disability’ or ‘mental’ which have negative stereotypes or myths associated with them, allow persons with disabilities to speak for themselves, encourage and to expose common myths about disability.

Source: The Sentinel