Officials of the district social welfare department have expressed their helplessness over the delay in the distribution of disability certificates. Officials said that several requests to the state health ministry to delegate the power to issue certificates to rural hospitals has fallen on deaf ears, and hence the delay.
District Social Welfare Officer Sanjay Kadam has claimed that department of persons with disabilities has sent several reminders and correspondence to the health ministry, but to no avail.According to 2011 census, out of the 22,063 persons identified with disability in the entire district, as many as 12,398 lack the necessary disability certificates, as there are only two centres across the district.
With elections round the corner, several MLA’s have taken up the cause but it has yielded no results. In a recent incident, Sassoon Hospital, one of the two centres entrusted with dishing out disability certificate to physically challenged people, was giving appointment dates to physically challenged people in need of a disability certificate for 2015. Another centre is Aundh CivilHospital, which generates the disability certificate.
To eliminate malpractices, authorities had ensured that persons with disabilities would be issued computer-based disability certificates, which was started last year. The ‘Software for Assessment of Disability, Maharashtra’ (SADM) issues a unique identification number to do away with the problem of bogus disability certificates. But with only two centres issuing the certificate, which is a time consuming process, the department of persons with disabilities had asked for more centres.
“In view of the difficulties, either the state government should increase the accessibility of SADM to more than one computer or delegate the powers of issuing the disability certificates to the rural hospitals, which will then reduce the work load from the two centres that are presently issuing the certificate,” said Kadam.
According to Kadam, SDAM is installed in only one computer each at both the centres, and they can issue only 35 certificates in a day. “We are aware that the system aims to eliminate malpractices and that a state government’s resolution directs that the disabled should procure their disability certificate from the District Hospital. However, the health ministry should also give the rights of issuing this certificate to the rural hospitals so that a disabled person can get the certificate in time,” said Kadam.
Meanwhile, BJP MLA Girish Bapat, who earlier raised this issue at the District Planning Development Council meeting, said that he would now bring up the matter in the upcoming winter session of the state assembly. “It’s surprising that the government has no mechanism to smoothen the process of issuing disability certificate,” said Bapat. He, however, is opposed to the idea of decentralisation of power while issuing a disability certificate.
Independent MLA Bacchu Kadu said that no other district except Pune is facing such a problem and that he would personally look into the matter. He also said that he would take up the issue with the health ministry to sort out the problem of delay in getting the disability certificate. Despite several attempts, the state health minister Suresh Shetty was unavailable for comment.
Purpose of the certificate
Disability certificates are meant for availing benefits related to employment, education or various government schemes extended towards benefiting people with disabilities. The certificate acts as a proof of disability of an individual and is an important tool that helps him/her avail benefits, facilities, rights that he/she is entitled to from the state and union governments. The certification system aims to eliminate malpractices such as generation of bogus disability certificates, which deprives benefits to those with real disabilities.
Number of disabled persons still awaiting the certificate, according to the 2011 census