Disabled, physically handicapped not spared!

When it comes resorting to corrupt practices and embezzlement of funds, government departments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have not even spared disabled and physically handicapped.

They have looted funds meant to procure suitable, durable, scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances for disabled and physically handicapped. Grant-in-aid has been misused by NGOs while government departments have fudged the data of aids and equipments distributed among beneficiaries.

According to an assessment report of Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, government of India launched the scheme of Assistance to Disabled persons for purchase/fitting of aids/appliances (ADIP) with effect from April-2005.the scheme was extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the same year.

Ministry provided grant-in-aid to NGOs and other executive agencies of state governments with the aim of reducing effects of disabilities and, enhancing economic potential of disabled persons by bringing suitable, durable, scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances within their reach. However, in Jammu and Kashmir, implementing Agencies conducted one camp for identification of beneficiaries but never went for second camp for distribution of appliances.

In many cases, the assessment team was not able to locate beneficiaries whose names were provided by the implementing agency. In many places, the address was limited to the name of a street or even a district/town. This problem was more acute in Udhampur District where the team could find only as less as two beneficiaries.

In many cases where the team managed to find out the beneficiaries after putting in a lot of efforts, persons mentioned in the list denied that they have received appliance from the Implementing Agency. In some cases they even denied having attended any camp. It was observed that the beneficiary list provided by the Implementing Agencies contained wrong details of the beneficiaries.

Jammu and Kashmir was allotted an amount of Rs. 81.51 Lakh of which 81 percent was released during the financial year. Utilisation of the allotted funds during the year was 68.1 percent. In the year 2014-15; the state received an annual allotment of Rs.  52 Lakh of which no expenditure is made. Total allotment during the reference period was Rs. 189.51 Lakh and only Rs. 153.77 was released.

There is nothing on ground to show that this amount was utilised for the purpose for which it was meant. The assessment report found out that aids and appliances had not been distributed but bills had been withdrawn. Citing an instance, the report has referred to allocation of Rs. 51.08 Lakh to the three selected districts named Pulwama, Jammu and Udhampur and said that implementing agency claimed to have distributed aids and appliances to 232 differently Abled persons.

But when the investigation was carried out, it was found that the addresses provided by implementing agencies were not full as only district names were provided and it was difficult to find beneficiaries with only district names. Even the district officials were also not found aware of the beneficiaries benefited under the project.

The team visited the state thrice but managed to contact just 83 beneficiaries and even they too were found taking benefit from other schemes. It was also found that in a number of cases, bills had been exaggerated. More serious was the fact that the appliances like wheel chairs and tricycles provided through the camp were of medium quality and tyres and rims had developed problems soon after they were obtained from the Implementing agency.

The team observed from the field that the appliances provided were in some cases not fitting to the environment in which they were to be used. This was against the guidelines of the scheme and thus, clearly showed that those implementing the scheme had committed some kind of mischief. The team further found out that none of the Implementing Agencies in Jammu and Kashmir had their own institutional capacities. And it is because of this reason that many of the people in the list provided by implementing agencies denied having received appliances under the scheme.

Some of them even denied having attended any camps for the same. Such is the arbitrariness that state government officials have no formal information about the allocation of funds. They claim that most of the implementing agencies are getting funds directly from the central government.

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