Report of the Public Hearing at D.J. Halli
12th December 2013, Football Maidan, DJ Halli, Bangalore
D.J. Halli (Devarajeevanahalli) is a large contiguous locality situated between Tannery Road and Sultanpalya towards the northern part of Bangalore. Known by this generic name, the area encompasses the areas of D.J. Halli (Ward No. 47) and Muneshwara nagara (Ward No. 48). The area is largely habited by low-income families and has several declared and un-declared slums, and has a cumulative population of about 1 lakh of which the majority belong to the Muslim community.
The death of a 6-year old child Kum. Meghala in July 2013, attention to which was brought by various activists and organisations, and thereafter highlighted in the media, drew the attention of the State Government to the highly vulnerable conditions of the people living here including rampant malnutrition, unhygienic environment, inhuman living conditions under which people are forced to live, denial and inability to access essential services such as health, nutrition, pension and disability services, etc.
Over several meetings in different mohallas and areas, people expressed a need for a Public Hearing to be held in D.J. halli to start the process of addressing the issues related to health, anganwadis, disability and pensions. It is in this context that the Public Hearing came to be organised.
The Public Hearing
The public hearing was held on 12th of December 2013 at the Football Maidan, D.J. halli in the presence of the following members of the Jury:
- Shri. Sheik Lathief, Secretary Karnataka State Minorities Commission.
- Shri. C. G. Hungund, Member, State Human Rights Commission, Karnataka.
- Fr. Edward Thomas, Member, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
- Smt. Manasa Devi, Assistant Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner for PWDS.
- Prof. (retd) Nagari Babaiah, People’s Democratic Forum.
- Smt. Gowri, Samanata Mahila Vedike.
- Smt. Pushpalatha, Dalit Bahujan Movement, Karnataka.
- Smt. Madiena Taj, Garments and Textiles Workers’ Union Mysore Road.
- Dr. Vasu H. V., Karnataka Janashakthi.
- Adv. Clifton D’ Rozario, Advisor to the Commissioner of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Right to Food case (W.P. No 196/2001).
Officials from various departments participated in the Public Hearing as respondents:
- For issues related to Pensions
- Smt. R. Manjulamma, Deputy Tehsildar, DJ Halli Hobli
- For issues related to Disability
- Shri. G. Mohan, District Disability Welfare Officer, Department of Disability Welfare
- For issues related to Anganwadi
- Smt. Eshrath Afza, Deputy Director, Department of Women and Child Development
- Shri. Ramesh Halbhavi, Deputy Director, Bangalore Urban district, Department of Women and Child Development
- Elected representative
- Shri. R. Sampath Raj, Corporator, DJ Halli, Ward 47
- For issues related to construction of new anganwadis
- Shri. Kiran B., AE, BBMP, Ward 47, DJ Halli
- For issues related to DJ Halli Maternity Home and UFWC
- Dr. Venkatesh T., MOH (MCH&PN), BBMP
- Dr. B. Sunita, MOH (Sarvagnanagar) and I/C Administration UFWC-DJ Halli, BBMP
- Dr. Manasa S., Assistant Surgeon, I/C Administration maternity home-DJ Halli, BBMP
In addition the following officials from these departments were present at the Public Hearing:
- Vasudeva N., Revenue Department, G.S. Nagawara, AC Post
- D.V. Annapurna, Assistant CDPO, Bangalore North taluk, Department of Women and Child Development
- H.R. Saroja, Supervisor, Department of Women and Child Development
- Dr. Manjunath, RCH Officer, Bangalore Urban, Department of Health and Family Welfare
- Dr. D. Ravishankar, DPMO, Bangalore Urban, Department of Health and Family Welfare
- Dr. Anand K., MoH, PHC Amruthahalli, Department of Health and Family Welfare
Proceedings of the public hearing:
The public hearing began at 11.00 a.m. with Smt. Mohsina welcoming all the Jury Members, Respondents and the people and laid out the context for the Public Hearing while highlighting the various problems faced by the citizens of D.J. Halli. She urged for a responsive system that took cognizance of people’s needs. Sumathi, an activist, introduced the respondents and jury. Akhila, an activist, gave a brief description of the overall objectives of the public hearing as well as its structure. Following this Dr. Sylvia, a doctor and activist, facilitated sharing of detailed testimonies from 10 persons who had experienced hardships, denials, discrimination related to health care, disability, anganwadi and pensions. After each individual testimony, the members of the Jury had some clarifications and also requested to see the relevant documents. After the detailed testimonies, there was an open house where many persons shared similar experiences. The various issues raised by the participants are summarized below:
Gaps highlighted through testimonies
The detailed testimonies brought out the following gaps in the provision of essential services:
- In spite of being declared a 24/7 UFWC-maternity home there was an absence/shortage of doctors and other staff at the UFWC-maternity home leading to unnecessary referrals to private and other tertiary hospitals. This was increasing the cost of care leading to catastrophic health expenditure, loss of possessions and homes. Many persons were now repaying loans with interest rates of more than 30%.
- Bad attitude of staff towards the residents of D.J. Halli especially the Muslim community and language barriers. Many women are turned away arbitrarily when they arrive for care.
- Problems in getting birth certificates from the hospital especially when they don’t pay the bribe of Rs. 300/- demanded from them.
- Undue financial expenditure for antenatal care for blood and urine investigations, ultrasound scanning and delivery charges. The costs for a normal delivery was around Rs. 2000/- and for a complicated one, anywhere ranging from Rs. 10,000 – 25000. Different bills issued by the UFWC-maternity home and receipts for outside prescriptions for even basic iron and folic acid tablets were shared with the jury.
- Lack of basic primary health care, unavailability of even basic drugs and lab testing. This included simple wound dressings and management of patients with epilepsy, diabetes and hypertension.
- The treatment provided at the UFWC and maternity homes over a period of time has made people in the community to lose confidence in the public system Even in very desperate situations they don’t find it worthwhile to seek treatment at the UFWC or the maternity home.
- Children are being turned away from the anganwadis that have reached their maximum capacity for intake
- Take home rations (THR) not being issued in a timely manner. The amount of THR was arbitrary and most pregnant and lactating women receive no THR.
- Severely Malnourished children were not able to access services such as the Rs.750 for medicines. The families still ended up paying out of pocket for treatment.
- Lack of basic facilities for the children such as drinking water, toilets, and safety at the anganwadi premises.
- Pregnant women not being registered at the anganwadi especially if they had come to their natal homes for delivery and had initially been registered elsewhere.
- The insufficiency of anganwadis in the area was highlighted and residents of Srinivas Nagar, Jhanda Galli, Tippu Mohalla, and Maulana Compound in D.J. Halli submitted a written request for establishment of anganwadi in their area.
- The severely malnourished children being taken to Bowring Hospital complained about the rude and unco-operative behavior of the hospital staff, and their reluctance in admitting the children. Further the parents are forced to pay for all the tests on their children and are not being given the daily incentive as per norms.
Pensions and disability
- Corruption in issuing disability certificates and pensions. Bribes were collected to issue pension certificates and to deliver pension money to the homes of the beneficiaries
- People are made to run around from one office to another and from one table to another for submitting forms, for any clarification about delayed/ stopped pensions.
- Confusion about the revised pension rates. Many persons eligible for receiving Rs. 1200/- for disability >85% continue to receive Rs. 400/-
- Many persons with disability are unable to access essential medicines at the UFWC. They spend anywhere between Rs. 600 – 1500 for anti-epilepsy and other medications.
- People with disability have to travel long distances and pay for physiotherapy services provided by NGOs. Lack of essential services and a prohibitive lack of accessibility for people with disability had led to additional health complications.
- There has been no survey to date to enumerate the disabled persons in the area.
Interaction between the jury and the respondents
Regarding health services:
The Jury took objection to the fact that none of the senior health officials – the Chief health Officer (CHO) Dr. Vatsala, Dr. Balasundar, Medical superintendent, Dr. Savitha, were present in spite of the organizers informing them well in advance about the public hearing.
The BBMP Health department officials responded to the testimonies and questions raised by the jury.
They said that there is one doctor in charge of the UWFC. The contract doctor who had been on duty from 9 – 4 had resigned three weeks ago and the OBG post had been lying vacant. Dr. Manasa who was the administrative in-charge and posted at Siddaiah road hospital is now going to temporarily manage the maternity home till such a time a permanent doctor is appointed.
In response to the respondent’s claims that they faced a shortage of staff and money, the jury directed that the health department need not focus on their issues related to shortages of staff and funds but rather focus on finding solutions at the earliest to the serious denials faced by the community at DJ Halli. It was emphasized that sustainable solutions need to be identified by BBMP as a demonstration of their accountability to the community.
In response to a question raised by the jury about whether BPL patients were charged the same rates as the others, the health department was unable to answer the question about whether BPL patients were given exemptions. Whereas one of the respondents claimed to charge BPL patients, another respondent denied this.
The respondents were questioned in detail about how the medicines are procured. The health department stated that they receive an amount of Rs. 25000 per month from user fees of which 20000 is used by the maternity department and 5000 from the UFWC which is inadequate to provide all the medicines required. Patients are therefore given prescriptions for even basic medicines to be bought from outside. Apparently there had been a regular supply of medicines to the PHC before August 2012. Currently the supply is irregular. This was procured by the Chief Health Officer.
With regard to the question raised about the availability of glucometers, the respondents stated that each centre was given 500 strips for testing. The essential drug list also includes anti-epileptic drugs, anti-hypertensive and anti- diabetic medications.
The health department stated that they were in touch with Indiranagar Rotary club who would be providing protein biscuits to malnourished children in DJ halli. With regard to interventions for children with SAM, the WCD department reported that they have formed seven teams of anganwadi teachers and link workers to conduct a door to door survey to record cases of malnourishment in children between the ages of 0-6years. The respondents said that screening of children for malnutrition had been standardized. They said that there was a severe shortage of pediatricians. Their list had 3600 children identified as SAM. They have also requested the Indian Medical Association and medical colleges for additional pediatricians. They refer serious cases to the nutrition rehabilitation centres. However, the respondents claimed that many people don’t go to the NRC.
The jury observed that many patients from DJ halli who are being referred to Bowring Hospital are facing a lot of difficulties such as the bad attitude of the doctors and the high user fees which are unaffordable to many. Doctors are deciding who gets admitted to the NRCs and the daily wages of Rs. 150 as mentioned in the government order (GO) are not being provided to the mother of the child. The Jury noted that when referrals are made, there should be a system of communication between the primary and the tertiary health centres to ensure care of the patient and delivery of all the services specified in the central scheme to the beneficiaries. The Jury wanted to know why volunteers who brought in children to the SAM ward were being shouted at and prevented from entering the hospital by the NRC staff. The issue of dignity of patients and treatment meted out to them by the health department was raised. The testimony of the patient who said “They treat us like this because we are poor. We are not given any dignity” was quoted by the jury.
Dr Venkatesh from the health department responded that they would henceforth establish effective communications with the different referral hospitals. He said that they also have ambulance services at the UFWC, which can be used by patients free of cost to visit referral hospitals. This would be available at all times for the community of DJ Halli, he said.
A complaint box would also be set up at a prominent place in the hospital premises. The respondents said that they would publicly display contact details of all the staff who the community could approach with any concerns. A local grievance officer would be appointed to cater to grievances.
Turning its attention to Department of WCD, the jury wanted to know why families of SAM children have not been provided with BPL cards. There are not enough anganwadis for the specific populations of the different slums in DJ Halli. The DWCD was asked about how they were addressing the specific needs of malnourished children with cerebral palsy and mental retardation.
The DWCD responded by saying that they are keen to increase the number of anganwadis from the existing 18 by another 40. 18 anganwadis were inadequate even by their own standards however anganwadis comes under the CSS projects. Although the government of Karnataka has given its approval the government of India has to also give permission. The respondents claimed that the anganwadi teacher could not be blamed for ineffective delivery of services as they have to stick to the mandate and guidelines given to them.
They stated that supervisors have already identified 22 new places to set up anganwadis but there are problems. The main issue was that buildings identified for rent for the proposed anganwadi centres don’t have property papers, however the government is ready to make an exception and allow for the setting up of the centers in these places. 50% new anganwadis would be functional by the end of the month.
As for BPL cards, the DWCD stated that it was the responsibility of the Food and Civil Supplies Department with whom they are in touch for DJ halli. They said that they have been trying to connect families with SAM children to the Food and Civil Supplies department however families are not able to procure evidence of address proof such electricity bills which makes it difficult to issue cards.
The jury raised concerns about the state of existing anganwadis. It has been 5 months since a child had died of malnutrition and funds had also been released however anganwadis had no toilets, gas, utensils fridge or stove. The minority rights commissioner, Mr. Sheikh Latif directed that a complaint be issued to the commission about these problems, and a notice would be issued to the DWCD.
The DWCD claimed that there was a marked increase in weight of children with SAM. They said that they however found it difficult to access children with congenital problems. They asked for suggestions and said that they would take action against anganwadi teachers who had not been functioning effectively.
The jury observed that 18 anganwadis for a population of 1 lakh was inadequate.
The DWCD officials informed the Jury that the Spirulina foundation has been distributing spirulina to children in the anganwadis. According to the respondents, this supplement has been advised for usage from the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD). The company had apparently approached the respondents offering to distribute the spirulina free of cost to the government which was found to be a good reason by the DWCD to include the drug in the regular care of the under 6 children. The Jury took objection to this and said that children from poor communities are not guinea pigs and any intervention that lacks an evidence base should not be introduced in the community. For such purposes there are clinical trials across the country and necessary laws that support. Adv. Clifton D’Rozario said that there is a clear treatment protocol recommended by the Justice NK Patel committee and this should be followed rather than some intervention just because it is free.
Regarding disability and pensions:
The jury recommended that there be an organized effort to conduct a survey to recognize those beneficiaries who were eligible for the disability pension scheme. There was objection to people with disabilities having to run around to different departments to obtain disability certificates and pensions. The pensions department was directed to conduct a pension adalat before the end of this month and ensure that all persons who had been denied pensions, had their cards cancelled or who hadn’t been receiving money that was due to them as per the severity of disability be identified and issued pensions immediately.
The district disability welfare officer said that in 2013, 5 lakh disabled people had been identified in Bangalore Urban. He made a commitment to co-ordinate with the pension department and ensure that the survey gets done by the end of the month to identify how the issues of people with disabilities could be addressed.
The upa-tahsildar stated that over 1500 pending pension orders still at their office for the DJ Halli Hobli (comprises of 9 wards). They will issue a message to the mobile numbers for the beneficiaries to come and collect the cards.
An issue was raised that people had to pay a bribe to get the appropriate disability certification. Payment of a bribe ensured that more disability was recorded. Many people who were illiterate had faced this problem. The pension department argued that it was the other way around as people with disabilities often threatened and abused doctors who certified disabilities as less than 85%. The jury asked the community if they could furnish evidence that persons with disabilities over 85% had been issued certificates with less severe disabilities. This evidence was handed to the jury by some community members.
People had complained about having to pay a bribe to the postman for receipt of the disability pension. However the upa-tahsildar expressed her inability to do anything about this and that it would have to be taken up with the postal department.
The pension departments said that with the new directive that people with severe disability (>85%) would get Rs. 1200 there was some confusion among the implementing staff such as the village accountant who was in turn confusing people. A fresh application was to be submitted for the revised pension amounts but this was not being adequately communicated leading to confusions. They claimed that many pension order copies were lying uncollected at the office.
The pensions department was reminded that there had been several complaints regarding pensions and that people had struggled to access the service. They were directed to make the processes simple and convenient for the persons with disability.
The jury directed that a pension adalat be held at the earliest for all kinds of pensions (disability, old age, widow etc). The corporator offered to support this.
The respondents were asked to view these issues from a human rights perspective within the government framework. The health department was asked to take cognizance of the fact that health issues would not wait till such a time the department was ready to deliver services. There was an urgent and pressing need expressed by the community with required an immediate and appropriate response.
Sharing information with the community through the use of information leaflets, posters and information boards was strongly emphasized.
The jury also said that information should be provided in Kannada as well as the local language of the place
The disability welfare officer shared his mobile number with the community and that he was available to anyone who would like to get information about the disability schemes and other related information. He spoke about Enable India, an NGO that provides vocational training and employment services. He asked that they be contacted for any support. He also spoke about the National Trust Act, which provides insurance for those with cerebral palsy, MR and other multiple disabilities. It is a life long insurance of Rs 200. It is free for BPL card holders and for APL card holders.
Response of Shri Sampath Kumar, Corporator
The Corporator, Shri Sampath Kumar responded by saying that there was confusion in the community about which ward comes under DJ Halli. Ward 47 came under DJ halli whereas ward no. 48 is Munishwaranagar. The community is not aware who comes under which jurisdiction. He claimed to have improved the sanitation, roads and drainage. According to him, 90% of residents are staying on government unauthorized land without hakku patras, ID proof or residence proof. The slum Board had said that if the residents of DJ Halli agree for the declaration of the slum area, the board can help with housing problems by helping set up G+3 houses in the area with multi-storey buildings. The residents have refused. He said that the Roshan nagar area is actually not fit for housing as it is actually a water quarry that collects sanitation outflow. He stated that he had doubts about 22 anganwadis coming up in the next year as there is no provision on part of the government to provide advance for the centres that will be set up. He criticized the government policy of not having any funding for building advances for anganwadis. He would be able to identify spaces if the government was willing to pay an advance towards rents.
Dr. Vasu sought an explanation from Mr. Sampath raj as to why so many families of children with SAM in his ward had not received BPL cards. To this he responded by saying he gets several applications for BPL cards everyday and was making sure that people get the cards.
The jury panel discussion was then facilitated by Sheikh Lathief, who suggested that all the suggestions put forth be acted upon as soon as possible and preferably before 31st March as State schemes usually lapse. The adalats and necessary committees for pension and anganwadi need to start immediately to ensure implementation of services to the beneficiaries in the DJ Halli area. The meeting concluded at 3.00P.M
Recommendations to the BBMP’s health department, Department of Health & Family Welfare and Autonomous government health institutions in Bangalore city
Drawing from the testimonies, presentations by the respondents and the interactions, we recommend to the concerned officials to undertake the following actions immediately:
- A permanent doctor should be made available round the clock at DJ Halli to serve the RCH and general healthcare needs of a population over 1 lakh (Ward 47 and 48).
- Given the prevalence of malnutrition as evident during the screening camps, immediate steps are required to operationalize the NRC in DJ Halli and to make it functional. Special needs of SAM children with other medical conditions and children with disability should be met locally at the UFWC. A pediatrician should visit the UWFC for a minimum of three days in a week.
- Free essential medicines as per the WHO guidelines should be made available. These would cover for all the conditions that are currently being referred to private hospitals or tertiary centres. These include hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, mental illness etc. Supply of free essential medicines should be followed up by stopping the practice of writing out prescriptions to buy medicines from private chemists/ hospitals.
- The over-charging from patients over and above the prescribed user-fees should end immediately and there should not be a single further case of people being turned away when they arrive for medical care.
- A fully equipped and functioning government lab within the area with scanning and x-ray facilities is a much needed requirement in the area given its population and morbidity levels. Pregnant women now are referred to private facility where they pay 600 per scan!
- Considering that there are numerous cases of non-issuance of birth certificates – in some cases for 3-4 years – and charging for money for the same, arrangements should be made on an urgent basis for birth certificates to be issued free of cost in the UFWC or maternity hospital itself within a particular time frame for all deliveries in the area irrespective of whether the babies are born at home or in an institution.
- Disability certificates should be issued by the doctor in the local UFWC and prevent hardships involved in making multiple visits to hospitals located far away (like NIMHANS and Indira Gandhi Hospital)
- Drinking water facility and clean well-maintained toilets should be provided in the DJ Halli maternity home/UFWC.
- BBMP, the Departments of WCD and HFW should ensure strict adherence to the treatment protocol for children with SAM issued by the Justice N.K. Patil committee. This should be prominently displayed at the AWC and UFWC. BBMP, the Departments of WCD and HFW should refer any suggestions for changes to the treatment protocol for children with SAM to a formally constituted technical committee.
- On no account should irrational, unscientific elements such as spirulina or commercial fortified biscuits be introduced into the treatment protocol for children with moderate/ SAM.
- A grievance redressal system must be put in place: A person from the BBMP should be appointed whose duty is to act on complaints received from the community. A list of names and phone numbers should be put up whom people can call in case of any problems
- Capacity building of the staff is needed to be able to deliver comprehensive preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative primary health care with rational process of referral to tertiary centres.
- Free Physiotherapy services should be provided in the DJ Halli UFWC to prevent families from having to travel long distances and pay for these most essential services for adults and children with disability which will improve their quality of life.
- When referrals are being made, there should be a system of communication between the primary and the tertiary health centres to ensure care of the patient and delivery of all the services specified in the central scheme to the beneficiaries.
- An ambulance service should be available free of cost at all times at the DJ halli Maternity home and UFWC
- Patients and volunteers at Bowring are being abused by the NRC staff and prevented from entering hospital premises. The health department must follow up this at Bowring hospital to ensure it would not happen again.
Recommendations to the Department of Women and Child Development
Having heard the testimonies and the response from the concerned department, we direct the Department of Women and Child Development to immediately act upon the following directions:
- Families of children with SAM should be issued BPL card to facilitate their access to various entitlements across departments.
- Eggs and milk should be given to all children enrolled in the anganwadi and not only SAM children, to prevent the onset of malnutrition. The money for procuring eggs, milk and other local produce should be given at the beginning of the month to prevent the teachers from paying out of pocket. The money should reflect market rates of eggs and milk so that teachers do not have to pay the difference out of pocket.
- All pregnant and nursing women should be enrolled and registered at the anganwadi and have access to all the facilities they are entitled to. Currently women get no supplementary nutrition due to a pathetic budgetary allocation for women’s health. This is the root cause of malnourished women giving birth to malnourished children and the state is enabling this by not prioritizing maternal nutrition.
- WCD department should equip some of the anganwadis in the DJ halli area to provide care and support for children with disability. Staff trained in care of children with disability along with additional support staff should be appointed.
- 18 anganwadis are grossly inadequate to respond to the needs of the children in DJ halli. Newly sanctioned 40 anganawdis should be made functional immediately. Issues related to paying advance for renting anganwadis should be resolved at the earliest.
- There should be no pre-packed foods given at the anganwadi.
- There should be a functional grievance redressal mechanism for grievances related to non-admission, denial of ration etc.
- All anganwadis should compulsorily have drinking water and toilet facilities.
Recommendations to the Tahasildar, Bangalore Urban (North) and Department of Social Security and Pension
We heard of people’s struggles particularly those who are most vulnerable- the elderly, adults and children with disability and single women related to seeking pensions. These are issues which can be easily resolved by the concerned departments. The fact that people have to resort to a public hearing implies a failure on the part of the concerned departments. We therefore urge the concerned departments to undertake the following actions without any further delay:
- Pension adalat should be become a standard routine strategy to address issues related to pension on an ongoing basis and not as a stop gap measure. The tahsildar’s office and the concerned departments – Social Security and Pension, Disability and WCD should visit the community on a fixed day, place and time every month to receive filled pension forms, issue pension cards, disability cards. These adalats should be well publicized, well ahead of time and should be held in D.J. Halli itself.
- There should be a locally available and easily accessible grievance redressal mechanism for complaints about cancellation of pension, delayed pension, bribery, and inadequate amounts being remitted.
- All pensions for the elderly, those with disability, widows/ single women should be delivered at their doorstep without having to pay bribes
- Pension for old age, disability (irrespective of levels of disability), widows/ single women should be increased to Rs.2000 a month given the increasing prices of essential commodities and special vulnerabilities of these groups.
- The documents required for issue of disability card should be specified and made simple.
Recommendations to the Department of Disability Welfare
We note with deep concern the high prevalence of disability among adults and children in DJ halli. It is indeed shocking that the concerned department has not even initiated a survey to understand the extent of the problem. This is a gross failure. However lack of data should not become yet another ruse for not initiating immediate actions to alleviate the pressing problems of persons with disability in the area. We direct the concerned departments to undertake the following actions without delay:
- A comprehensive survey should be undertaken to estimate the number of people with disability by type in the DJ Halli area so that government services provided through different departments can be made more responsive to the specific needs of those with disability. Disability cards should be issued on the spot.
- The department of disability welfare should work with the Department of WCD, Health and BBMP to ensure that the newly opened NRC in DJ Halli maternity home/ UFWC functions as an integrated community–based child care centre that provides specialized care for children with disabilities, such as nutritional care, physiotherapy, medical care, access to mobility aids and support to use the same and so on. This will provide relief for care givers whose own health and financial situation is very fragile.
- Anganwadis in DJ halli should be specifically equipped to provide care and support for children with disability.
- Documentation of degree of disability and certification of the same should be done at the local PHC and in an objective manner so as to leave no room for bribe-taking and arbitrariness. The documents required for issue of disability card should be specified and made simple.
- All persons with disability should get free mobility aids suitable to their unique needs through the disability welfare department without having to depend on NGOs and private agencies
- All surgeries for children /adults with disability should be made available free of cost at government tertiary hospitals.
- Hospitals like NIMHANS should become PWD – friendly in terms of processes and procedures
- All schemes for persons with disability related to housing, income generation, loans, mobility, scholarships should be widely publicized and made easily accessible
- All essential medicines, including those for epilepsy, which many children / adults with disability require should be available free of cost in DJ halli UFWC.
Recommendations to all departments
There are certain issues that are common across departments. These directions are in the larger interest of facilitating trust between the departments and the people they serve, ensuring transparency in the functioning of public services and safe-guarding public facilities from encroachment by private providers. We thereby direct all government functionaries to act upon the following:
- There should be quarterly public meetings in the wards where administrators from different departments are present to take immediate action for various problems and complaints from the public.
- All government staff should be able to converse in the local language or seek help of those who can translate.
- Criminal liability should be imposed on those officials found guilty of discrimination based on language, religion or caste
- Government facilities such as anganwadis and UFWC/ maternity home should not be sites for advertising / trial / recruitment of people/ patients for services of private agencies – be it private hospitals, agencies handing out free products of any kind and so on.
- Government facilities should not rent out/ hand over any part of the premises for any private entity such as outreach of private hospitals, clinics and so on.
The Jury would also like to remind that subsequent to the death of Kum. Meghala in July 2013, various officials and Ministers have visited D.J. Halli and a slew of promises have been made which are yet to be kept. In a meeting held on 29/08/2013, in the chambers of the Minister for Women and Child Development, several decisions were made which are yet to be implemented. These include:
- Recognizing that there are numerous malnourished children in the area and that there was lots of garbage contributing to various diseases, the garbage was to be removed within a week.
- All anganwadis was to be provided water supply and repaired by the BBMP.
- Medicines and other necessary vitamins would be provided to all severely malnourished children by the BBMP.
- Steps would be taken to increase the daily incentive to be provided to the caregivers of severely malnourished children in D.J. Halli so that they admit their children to the NRCs.
- 40 news anganwadis would be opened in D. J. halli.
- Special drive would be conducted to provide BPL cards to the families of all severely malnourished children.
- NRC would be opened at D.J. halli hospital.
It is the opinion of the Jury that the implementation of these decisions has to be ensured immediately else it is not just the health of the children and the residents that would be impacted, but also their faith in the government.
One recurring fact through the Public Hearing was that the families are steeped in poverty despite all being hard-working people. This indicates that the wages of the people are very low. In fact one of the deponents stated that “Jab rozi nahin to kuch bhi nahin”. This is an aspect that requires the earnest attention of and immediate action by the State Government.
We trust that the State Government and the concerned departments will take cognizance of the directions from the Jury and immediately undertake actions on the same. We urge all officials working in these departments to be respectful and responsive to people’s needs and strive towards ensuring people’s timely and easy access to their entitlements.
|Mr. Sheik Lathief, Secretary, Karnataka State Minorities Commission.|
|Mr. C. G. Hungund, Member, State Human Rights Commission, Karnataka.|
|Fr. Edward Thomas, Member, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.|
|Ms. Manasa Devi, Office of the Commissioner for PWDS.|
|Prof. (retd) Nagari Babaiah, People’s Democratic Forum.|
|Ms. Gowri, Samanata Mahila Vedike.|
|Mrs. Pushpalatha, Dalit Bahujan Movement – Karnataka.|
|Ms. Madiena Taj, Garments and Textiles Workers’ Union.|
|Dr. Vasu H. V., Karnataka Janashakthi.|
|Adv. Clifton D’ Rozario, Advisor to the Commissioner of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Right to Food case (W.P. No 196/2001).|