It was not a pleasant experience for K.N. Anand, a differently abled person with partial blindness, when he approached the authorities for his Unique Disability Identity Card.
The delay by the health department in verifying and issuing the cards to 18,000 differently abled applicants in Kannur for the past three years cost him an opportunity to apply for the Ph.D. course this year at Annamalai University, where they demanded the Unique Disability Identity Card after they found the permanent disability card issued by the health department was written in Malayalam.
It was in 2019 that he had applied for the card. Initially, the delay came from the Social Security Mission, which waited for collecting all the applications from the differently abled people, said Mr. Anand, who is also the vice president of the Differently Abled Employees’ Association and a teacher at the Narath AUP school.
However, the work was pending with the health department, which was supposed to form an expert committee to verify the permanent disability card and issue the Unique Disability Identity Card, he said.
It would not be a Herculean task given that they had verified the genuineness of the applicants who had already provided information regarding their disabilities.
He said the Unique Disability Identity Card project was implemented to encourage transparency, efficiency, and ensure ease of delivering government benefits to persons with disabilities.
Mr. Anand said that differently abled persons had reservations in job, education and enjoyed various benefits such concessions in journey by train. The card would help to ease the problems faced by them in getting their rights, he said.
However, the inordinate delay and laxity shown by the government officials in issuing the card was a blatant violation of their rights, he said. T. Jayakumar, Kannur district secretary, Differently Abled Persons’ Welfare Federation, and former member of State Advisory Board, said that though the health department had received 18,000 applications, just over 5,000 cards had been issued in Kannur.
He alleged that the Social Security Mission, which collected data and uploaded it, had made many errors in the data.
He said the issue was not confined to Kannur, but across the State. Except for Malappuram, where about 10,000 applications were processed, in all other districts, the applications were pending before the health department, he said.
K. Aneesh, district coordinator, Social Security Mission, said that they had completed the process of collecting the applications, which started in 2019. The applications were updated through Akshay Kendra and it was submitted to the health department for verification and issuing the identity cards. He said that over 18,000 applications had been processed for approval by the health department. There had been no delay by the Social Security Mission, he said.
Dr. Shaj, Kannur Deputy District Medical Officer, said that the COVID outbreak had left them short of doctors. Besides, they were awaiting a reply from the Social Security Mission from which they had requested data entry operators, computers, and also doctors to verify the claims.