Reported by Santosh Jagdev/Edited by Sandeep Sahu
Bhubaneswar, Sep 24:
Expressing unhappiness over the denial of government benefits to visually impaired persons in the state, secretary general of National Association for the Blind (NAB) K Ramakrishna on Tuesday said 90% of visually impaired persons in the state are deprived of the benefits.
He was speaking to media persons after discussing issues related to the visually impaired with senior government officials here today.
Students, in particular, faced a lot of problems due to the government inability to ensure that they get the benefits due to them, Ramakrishna said.
“Visually impaired students of Class IX and X in Odisha are yet to get books in the Braille script at a time when three months of the academic session are already gone. This is the state of affairs despite the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which aims at providing education to all students irrespective of their physical disability or economical background. The State Government must take steps for their proper education, employment, training and rehabilitation,” said Ramkrishna.
Citing the example of Majulata Panda, a visually impaired researcher in Utkal University who was made ineligible for the post of junior lecturer during selection in UPSC exam, Ramkrishna alleged that posts reserved for visually impaired persons in government departments are being ‘sold’ to other persons with the help of influential persons.
He also raised concern over the fact that 80 per cent of teaching posts in the government-run blind school at Burla and 50 per cent in Bhubaneswar are lying vacant.
There are four Acts in the country for the visually impaired and differently able persons in order to empower them in all respects, but not a single provision of these acts is implemented in letter and spirit, Ramakrishna rued. Strong advocacy and implementation of these acts is required to give justice to the differently able, he said.
Ramakrishna met the Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) State Project Director regarding non-availability of books in Braille script and the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities Kasturi Mohapatra.
“We will meet the Chief Minister soon to inform him about the real status of the visually impaired persons in the State,” said Ramkrishna.