ISLAMABAD   -   Despite the increasing inflation and hard economic situation, the Punjab government is providing a meagre amount of only Rs2,000 per month as assistance to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), a report submitted to the Supreme Court on Friday revealed.

The Rs2,000 per month to PWDs is for those who are not able to work while Rs1,500 per month as assistance is being given to those PWDs who are able to work, the report further revealed.

According to the report submitted in Supreme Court in a case pertaining to right and welfare of PWDs, around 67,102 PWDs are drawing monthly cash assistance under the Khidmat Card Program.

The report submitted by Additional Advocate General Punjab Faisal Fareed Hussain further stated that in collaboration with the Punjab Small Industries Corporation, the Punjab Social Protection Authority has launched an income generation scheme with a cost of Rs270.417 million.

All PWDs in Punjab who are able to work and have a viable business plan are entitled to receive interest-free loan for setting up their own business under this scheme. Uptill, 5,928 PWDs have received loans under this project.

Under the Asset Transfer Scheme, so far 1763 rural area females PWDs have received buffaloes and cows. The report further stated that the Punjab government has collected Rs. 50 million so far from the private establishments who have not employed the PWDs against the 3 per cent quota.

The collected amount is for the purpose of welfare of PWDs and the amount is collected under Section-11 of the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981.

District Assessment Boards (DABs) under Section 12 of the said Ordinance so far issued Disability Certificates to 0.18 million PWDs for the job on quota.

“In public sector/ Government departments 9183 posts have been identified so far, as reserved against 3% employment quota. Out of which, 4607 posts have already been filled. In second phase, 3717 posts have recently been advertised by the Government departments,” the report stated.

The government sector posts of BS-17 and above come under the purview of the Punjab Public Service Commission. After the identification of vacant posts against reserved quota, the same are advertised and the recruitment process is completed under the legal arrangements through Commission.

Regarding the private sector, the report stated that 789 private establishments have been identified where the 3 per cent employment quota is applicable.

“In the said establishments 9774 posts have been identified reserved against 3 per cent employment quota. Against 9774 reserved posts, 7564 posts have already been filled. Remaining posts will either be filled by the private establishments or they will provide minimum wages against them in PRDP fund.”

The report claimed that the Provincial Council is making all out efforts to implement 3 per cent quota to fill up vacant posts in private establishments.

It added that the 292 institutions are working in the province to provide Special Education. These 292 institutions include 5 degree colleges, 3 training colleges, 7 higher secondary institutes, 58 high schools, 117 middle schools and 102 primary schools.

By the academic year 2018, though the 292 institutions and with the engagement of 6305 teaching and non-teaching staff, special education is being imparted to the 32345 (20404 Male and 11941 Female) students.

According to the data provided by the Punjab government, there are 18953 hearing impaired students, 2289 visually impaired students, 2184 physical impaired students, 5760 mentally challenged students, 2739 slow learners and 420 trainees students are being educated in these institution. 

The Special Education Department is also offering free of cost education facility with a flexible admission policy. Provincial Special Education Department is also imparting difference vocational skills, the report added.

Advocate Raheel Kamran Sheikh, the petitioner in the case, believes that the government has not only been adhering to the quota but also in many cases the persons employed on such quotas are not disabled.

He told The Nation that those who are not employing such persons according to the quota are required to make contribution to the fund envisaged under the said Ordinance or as the case may be and the said fund must be spent on the welfare of persons with disabilities. He further said that although the Sindh government has written a letter to Council of Common Interest to encourage the private sector for employing persons with disabilities but such exercise is lacking in the federal government and other provincial governments.

He laments that no sensitivity has been shown to protect the dignity and respect of the persons with disabilities in the advertisements.