NEW DELHI: In his 40s, Piyush Nigam from Lucknow stays alone and is a wheelchair user with 80% disability. When he complained to the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities of the ministry of social justice that he is not getting curfew pass for his care giver, as he cannot travel to SDM office to apply, DEPwD intervened and reached out to the UP state disabilities commission to get the authorities to someone to his house to collect the documents and issue a pass. DEPwD has asked the state authorities to expedite the process to issue the pass on priority basis.
Pointing that she has been taking up all complaints coming to her with the state authorities, DEPwD secretary Shakuntala D Gamlin told TOI that to ensure on ground outreach and inter-state coordination a network of state disabilities commissions has been created. At the state level helplines have been set-up, she added. As a follow-up to the advisories of the DEPwD on safety of persons with disabilities in the fight against Covid-19, the district magistrates have been authorised to issue passes including e-passes to caregivers on verification by legal guardians of the person with disability or by civil society organisations, if the PwD is unable to come or apply.
As it turns out in the case of Piyush Nigam, after the intervention of DEPwD, he was told to apply online as the state authorities had discontinued the offline pass system in Lucknow from April 2 2020. Nigam expressed his inability to apply online, the disability officer of Lucknow district then deputed someone to collected all information and documents and registered the request online. The DEPwD has asked the authorities to issue the pass on priority basis.
However, things are not easy even for all those who have the curfew passes or letters from district authorities authorising caregivers. Mumbai based motivational speaker and model, Virali Modi, who is a disability rights activist, has started a petition on Change.org addressed to home minister Amit Shah and social justice and empowerment minister Thaawarchand Gehlot highlighting that there is need for issuing a government permit to caregivers on priority to enable them to access the person with disabilities without trouble.
Speaking to TOI, Modi, who is a wheelchair user shared that she lives alone and the lady who supports her lives 3 kilometres away. While the caregiver has a letter from the authorities, the bus transport does not recognise making it extremely difficult to reach her.
In her petition she points that “in the absence of accessible public facilities and assistive technologies, the disabled need human assistance. But social distancing makes it difficult, especially those of us living alone. Some of us are struggling to access our basic medical supplies like catheters and urine bags.”
After the lock down came into effect, the DEPwD issued guidelines to states and union territories to issue passes to caregivers on priority basis. It was sought that the state commissioner for disabilities be made the nodal officer to resolve disability specific issues during the crisis period and states were asked to set-up helplines.