Crisis-hit disabled rue govt apathyThere is no fuel. There is no cooking gas. And daily essentials are running out of stock in the market.
There is no fuel. There is no cooking gas. And daily essentials are running out of stock in the market. Scarcity has become a way of life for the last few months due to ongoing protests in the Tarai and an unofficial blockade imposed by India.
In such time of despair, there is one section of society that has been hit the hardest, and the state seems to be completely oblivious to their plight.
People with disabilities are finding it hard to cope with the crisis that has befallen the country.
Visually-impaired Tikaram Parajuli, 35, ran out of cooking gas 20 days ago. He lives in rented a room in Thapagaun. The birth of a girl child a week ago should have been a joyous moment, but Parajuli is struggling to manage things for the mother and the child. “I have been using a coil heater and charcoal for cooking, but it is very difficult,” said Parajuli. Like Parajuli, hundreds of people with disabilities living in the valley are facing similar
The Capital city, which is already notorious for the lack of disabled-friendly environment, has become a difficult place to live in for the people with disabilities in the wake of ongoing crisis. It is not possible for them to stand in serpentine queues for hours to collect cooking gas that is sporadically distributed. Nor can they go to fetch firewood distributed by the government.
The National Federation of Disabled Nepal estimates that around 1,500 visually-impaired people and 2,000 wheelchair users live in Kathmandu.
The Disabled Welfare and Protection Act of Nepal 1982 calls for guaranteeing the rights of the people with disabilities and the benefits they should get. But the Act has been limited to paper only.
Mohna Ansari, spokesperson for the National Human Rights Commission, says the NHRC has continuously raised the problems faced by people with disabilities since the fist of day of India’s unofficial trade embargo. She admitted that the government had ignored the issue.
“These are the most vulnerable people; they are suffering the most due to the ongoing crisis,” said Ansari.
Meanwhile, realising that life is going to be even tougher, especially for his newborn child, Parajuli on Wednesday decided to send the mother and daughter to his village in Sindhupalchok. “Kathmandu is getting colder by the day. Sending them to village was the only option I was left with,” said Parajuli. But that also does not solve the
problem for Parajuli. His home in Sindhupalchok was ravaged by the April 25 earthquake. His parents are living in a makeshift tent. However, he hoped that his wife, who does not have any eye problem, and his parents could take better care of his newborn daughter.
Sudarshan Subedi, chairperson of NFDN, says NFDN has already written twice to the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies to do the needful to address the problems faced by people with disabilities.
“But the government seems to be indifferent to the issue,” said Subedi, adding that an NFDN delegation is going to meet officials at ministry on Thursday.
Article 11 of the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities 2006 says States shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situation of humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disaster. Nepal signed the convention in 2008.
According to personal aid to Minister for Commerce and Supplies Ganesh Man Pun, time has been allocated for a meeting between officials and NFDN delegation and that the ministry was positive about addressing the problems faced by differently-abled people. Rights activists say the government must act soon to make a difference in the lives of differently abled.