PwDs in Meghalaya hold protest instead of celebrating International Day of PwDs

Shillong Dec 3: Persons with disabilities (PwDs) in Meghalaya held sit in protest on Tuesday instead of celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The sit-in was held at the Additional Secretariat parking lot under the banner of the Federation of Persons with Disabilities in protest against the state government for not implementing fully the 4 per cent job reservation in various government departments, delay to enhance the employment allowance for PwDs who have completed matriculation, and denial of various schemes and benefits like PMAY scheme for making houses, and availing loan under the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation through the Meghalaya Cooperative Apex Bank to take up self employment ventures.

Perturbed over the adamant attitude of the state government, they also ccontemplated to move the Meghalaya high court if the 4 per cent job reservation is not implemented immediately besides denial of other benefits.

“We will assemble again in this same venue on December 19 to make the government hear our grievances. If the government does not hear, we will discuss among us for contributions so that we can fight for our rights in the Meghalaya High Court,” Starwin Kharjana, publicity secretary of the federation told reporters.

Kharjana said that a similar petition of the National Blind in Supreme Court has led to an order directing the Central government to complete the backlog recruitment for PwDs. “We are delighted and hoped that we will get justice,” he said.

The Federation of persons with disabilities comprised of six organisations.

Demanding from government to fully implement the 4 per cent job reservation as per the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, Kharjana said, till date, the state government has not implemented the reservation.

“We have met social welfare minister, Kyrmen Shylla on September 23 this year who assured of doing something for the welfare of PwDs including the job reservation and welfare schemes. After one month when we met him again, the replies did not satisfy us. The statement of the minister dispirited us when he said that if we are not satisfied with his replies, we should go and ask from the directorate of social welfare. We want to know from the minister, whether the directorate is higher than the secretariat? We want to send this message to the minister that he should carefully and thoroughly look into our demands,” Kharjana said.

The PwDs demanded that job recruitment in various departments either by the district selection committee or the Meghalaya Public Service Commission should ensure the 4 per cent job reservation.

“The state government is using its own formula just to deny us this 4 per cent job reservation. Though a notification on 4 per cent job reservation was issued, but many departments did not recognise the PwDs when approached. This shows that the notification was issued only in paper but not implemented in reality,” he said.

Moreover, the PwDs till date only 80 persons with disabilities have been employed in various government departments and there were a number of them who were rejected since the year 2010.

“we also have one candidate who had passed the examination including personal interview conducted by the MPSC for the post JDA but he was not given the appointment. When we approached the MPSC, the reply they gave was that they have mistakenly made him passed which is not acceptable to us,” Kharjana said.

In the recent job examinations conducted by the District Selection Committee, there were around 1,400 candidates who passed the written examination and among them, there are 25 PwDs who passed the test for filling up 118 vacant posts. “It is our right that 5 PwDs should get the job. We demand that the PwDs (from all categories of disabilities) should be appointed. The government should not appoint only PwDs belonging to the locomotor category,” Kharjana demanded.

On denial of loan to PwDs by some branches of the Apex Bank, Kharjana said, “there are some banks branches that harassed and denied loan to PwDs despite having submitted all the required documents. When the government cannot provide jobs to us, it should provide us opportunities so that we can stand on our own feet and become self employed. Through this loan, PwDs can start small businesses on their own like shops, commercial vehicles or any businesses.”

Kharjana also said that PwDs are also entitled to benefit from the PMAY scheme through different blocks. “However in some blocks where we have submitted our applications, theose applications get disappeared like in Thadlaskei├▒ block, Jirang block, Umsning block, Mawphlang block, Mairang block, and Pynursla block. The applications we submitted have gone missing in these blocks and the PMAY scheme meant for the PwDs was allotted to others, perhaps to some people who have close links with certain people.”

The PwDs demanded that an unemployment allowance of Rs 1000, being given every month to PwDs who have completed matriculation should be increasedat par with the payment being paid to muster roll workers working in different departments.