The Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot has said that many new initiatives have been taken by the current Government for the empowerment of persons with disabilities. Recalling that the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi told him that the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is mandated to work for the empowerment of people who suffer the most, Shri Gehlot said that he is happy to note that the Ministry has now made a global name for itself, especially due to the work it has been doing for Divyangan. He said that the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities has established five Guinness World Records in the last four years. The Minister said that the Government has distributed equipment worth more than 600 crore rupees, benefitting more than 10 lakh Divyangjan. He said that the Government has brought in transparency in the way this equipment is distributed.
The Minister said that out of the 1,200 children who were provided cochlear implants by the Government, at a cost of Rs. 6 lakh per child, a significant part of the contribution was made by Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped [AYJNISHD(D)]. Shri Gehlot said that these 1,200 children have begun to hear and majority of them have begun to speak as well.
The Minister noted that the demand for cochlear implants has gone up significantly; the initial target was 500, while now, even after completion of 1,200 implants, there is a waiting list of around 2,000. He said that the Government is trying its best to meet the increased demand.
Observing that more than 80% of Divyangjan are not able to stand up on their own, Shri Gehlot said that the Government is helping them by providing them electrically charged motorized tricycles. He said that around 5,000 such tricycles have been distributed. While the unit cost of this tricycle is Rs. 37,000, Rs. 25,000/- is being provided as subsidy.
On the occasion, the Minister launched Vayoshree Yojana, a ‘Scheme for providing Physical Aids and Assisted-living Devices for Senior citizens belonging to BPL category’. The assistive devices provided under this scheme will help Senior Citizens to overcome their age-related physical impairment and lead a dignified and productive life with minimal dependence on caregivers or other members of the family. The ambitious Scheme, the first of its kind in the country, is expected to benefit around 5.2 lakh senior citizens over a period of three years. The Minister said that under the scheme, the beneficiary will receive assistive devices costing around Rs. 7,000 free of cost. Shri Gehlot said that the assistive devices are of around seven types, comprising hearing aids, walkers, dentures and eye-glasses. He added that camps have already been organized at 18 locations, at which around 3 lakh people have been given assistive devices.
AYJNISH(D) provides BTE digital programmable hearing aids under ADIP scheme free of cost for persons with disabilities. Many elderly persons find difficult to avail disability certificates or do not qualify for getting disability certificate while they need amplification devices. The ‘Vayoshri Scheme’ will take care of such population. AYJNISHD(D) is implementing ‘Vayoshree Scheme’ with the collaboration of ALIMCO, Kanpur.
The Minister has appealed to the people to contact the Department if they come to know of anyone who needs such assistance. He exhorted everyone to help those in need by making them aware of Government schemes and helping them avail their benefits.
The Minister said that the annual turnover of ALIMCO has gone up from around Rs. 4 crore to around Rs. 250 crore. He said that the Government is working on modernizing all equipment for the welfare of Divyangjan. Shri Gehlot said that work has begun on making artificial limbs, in collaboration with a German institution. He said that 15 people have already been provided these limbs, which enable the beneficiaries to engage even in activities such as long-jump, high jump and writing.
Shri Gehlot said that efforts are continuously on to modernize Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Speech and Hearing Disabilities (Divyangijan). He said that a lot of progress has been happening, with projects worth around Rs. 6 crore having been executed in the Institute in the past four years. The Minister appealed to all to participate in and support the activities and schemes of the Ministry, so that more and more people are benefited.
The Minister also inaugurated the online registration system (ORS) for availing the services of AYJNISHD(D). The system will enable both new and old patients needing treatment or appointment to register for the same in an easy manner. It covers various services for diagnosis, intervention and therapeutic services for the hearing-impaired. This will enable people to avail services at their convenience. An online appointment can be made for hearing-testing, speech-language testing and therapy, educational guidance, psychological evaluation and vocational services. ORS is Aadhaar-based as well as a mobile number based.
The Minister also met Cochlear Implanted children and issue letter of appreciation for joining the mainstream schools.