The center announced this week June 1 as the date from which all disability certificates will be issued online, a requirement under the Disability Rights Act of 2016.
The announcement published on Wednesday made it mandatory for all states and territories of the Union to issue the certificates for people with disabilities (PwD) via the portal of the Department of Empowerment of PwD (DEPwD). The Unique Disability ID (UDID) portal – swavlambancard.gov.in – was launched in 2016, and states and UTs were given “sufficient time to switch to online mode,” according to a DEPwD statement on Thursday.
DEPwD said the central advisory council on disability, led by Thawarchand Gehlot, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, discussed the matter on November 26, 2020 and decided to make the online issuance of certificates mandatory from April 1, 2021 .
“Given the elections in some states / UT from March to April 2021, online certification became mandatory from June 1st,” it said. The affected departments in the states were requested to implement the report immediately.
The online system would allow certificates to be valid for all of India, it said.
Eye wash, say activists
However, PwD and activists have expressed concerns about the planned digitization. Dr. Satendra Singh, a doctor at GTB Hospital in Delhi and a disability rights activist, said the decision was an “eye wash” as states and hospitals were required to upload certificates to the portal, which was a slow process.
“Everything falls on individual hospitals. For example, the leading institutions like AIIMS and my own hospital, GTB, have not been issuing disability certificates for some time. It wasn’t taken seriously. Recently, a UPSC aspirant needed a certificate but was unable to get it in time, ”he said.
Dr. Singh said the center should instruct disability officers in the states to make hospitals comply.
According to the report of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment presented on March 16 in both chambers, 51.32 lakh UDIDs were issued through the portal as of December 31, 2020. The DEPwD told the committee that the number of UDIDs was close to 1.65 crore by states and UTs issued disability certificates. The committee expressed concern that the number of certificates, and subsequently the number of UDIDs issued, was far fewer than the number of PwDs, which according to the 2011 census was 2.68 crore.