Srinagar, Apr 20: Jammu and Kashmir has nearly three lakh disabled people because of about 20-year-long turmoil in the state, forcing authorities to enact a law for the protection of the rights of these people.
Calling for an increased cooperation between the government and NGOs to ensure better care, protection, welfare and rehabilitation of the people with disabilities, Minister for Finance, Housing and Urban Development Tariq Hameed Karra said due to the turmoil the number of disabled, both physical and mental, has increased manifold in the state.
''There are an estimated 3 lakh disabled people in Jammu and Kashmir,'' he said.
He said for the protection of the rights of the disabled people, the state government has already enacted a law under ''Jammu and Kashmir Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1998.
Mr Karra said in addition to the legal framework, extensive infrastructure has been developed in the state for the welfare of the people with disabilities, including setting up of a composite Rehabilitation Center.
He said in 2003 the state government had hiked the monthly pension of the disabled people from Rs 150 to Rs 200 and it was proposed to be taken to Rs 500 in a phased manner.
Referring to the national scenario, Mr Karra said,'' There are around 70 million disabled people in the country and in 2006 the Centre announced a National Policy for the people with Disability.
He said,'' The National Policy recognises that Persons with Disabilities are valuable human resource for the country and seeks to create an environment that provides them equal opportunities, protection of their rights and full participation in society.'' Mr Karra said India was also a signatory to the Declaration on the Full Participation and Equality of People with disabilities in the Asia Pacific Region and was currently participating in the negotiations on the UN Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.
He said the National Handicapped and Finance Development Corporation (NHFDC) has been providing loans on concessional terms for undertaking self-employment ventures by the people with disabilities through state governments and the Panchayati Raj institutions at Village levels, Intermediary levels and District levels have been entrusted with the welfare of disabled people.
Mr Karra said presently seven national institutes were working for the development of manpower in different areas for the disabled.
He said there were five Composite Rehabilitation Centres, four Regional Rehabilitation Centres and 120 District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs) providing various kinds of rehabilitation services to people with disabilities.