Sassoon Hospital's cold-hearted response to physically disabled people so exasperated them that they turned out in hundreds to protest. Under fire, hospital said it would begin issuing certificates daily
As though circumstances haven’t already slowed them down, red tape — perhaps burdened with sheer sloth on part of the authorities — has been forcing the disabled to put on hold their quest for a disability certificate for two years.
Hitting new lows of bureaucracy, government-run Sassoon General Hospital has been giving appointments to physically challenged people in need of a disability certificate for 2015. Without the crucial document, they can’t avail of the benefits reserved for them under various government schemes – such as commuting, medical discounts, employment opportunities and so on.
To protest the administration’s cold apathy afflicting applicants for the past few months, hundreds of them turned up at the dean’s office on Wednesday morning. At last, after a two-hour brouhaha, the dean made a statement assuring them that the facility would begin issuing certificates that very day.
Dilip Modak, who has been making rounds of the hospital for three months in the hope of getting a disability certificate, finally got a date, but for a day in November 2015. For formalities that shouldn’t take more than a day, he was asked to wait a couple of entire years.
“I have been coming here since August. But not a single time did any doctor attend to me so I could get a disability certificate. Finally, a peon gave me a date and asked me to come after two years to collect it,” Modak said.
Another physically-challenged person Sanjay Gaikwad said, “Corruption has taken such deep root here that the given date moves up by a year after a ‘settlement’. The peon had first given me a date for April 2, 2015. But after I gave him Rs 50, he has asked me to come on January 9, 2014.”
Rajendra Vable, deputy president of Prahaar Apang Kranti Andolan, said, “Earlier the situation was not that bad. All these problems started only after the government adopted specially developed software and stopped issuing the disability certificates manually. One would expect the work to be quicker with the new technology, but that’s the irony.”
Vable is suffering from permanent disability but that hasn’t stopped him from helping others procure certificates, a task he has been involved with for two years now. He said, “Here, the hospital administration is allotting dates that come after two years. They have not even stopped to think how much effort it takes us just to get here.”
Local MLA steps in
Independent MLA Bacchu Kadu questioned Sassoon Hospital Dean Dr Ajay Chandanwale over the facility’s insensitive approach. “The dean tried giving explanations like how the new software was restricting issuance of bogus certificates, but what about the unacceptable delay? After our agitation, he has given us an assurance in writing that from November 4, the hospital will issue 60 certificates daily,” Kadu said.
He added, “The scenario in Pune district is outrageous. No one seems to have thought about the gravity of the issue before asking physically challenged people to come after two years.” Despite several attempts to contact the dean, he remained unavailable for comment.
Hospital on the back foot
The statement by Sassoon Hospital Dean Ajay Chandanwale: “The system (of issuing disability certificates) will get repaired in the next couple of days, and from November 4 all patients would get an online certificate on the same day. Special camps will be conducted on weekends to issue certificates to those who got dates for 2015.”