It was a special weekend for the differently abled population in Kutch. For, the border district hosted a two-day sports meet, which ended on Sunday. Some 500 disabled competitors from all over the district participated in 27 different games. For most, the event wasn’t just about taking part in games and winning, but also about interacting with one another. An annual feature, this was the 19th edition of the special sports meet. Incidentally, the district has a large population of blind and disabled people. The January 2001 killer temblor is a prime cause for the number of physically handicapped people in the district.
Ranjitsinh, who came first in the 100 metre race for the visually challenged in the senior category, says his real joy was “in having got an opportunity to have close interaction with my disabled brethren and share our problems. Because of my disability of vision, I spend my time in loneliness, but here I spent two full days with friends and talked about many common things.” Pachanbhai Maheshwari, a winner in discuss throw, who is doing his MA in English and Kantaben Jakhu of Dhavda village who won the first prize in filling-the-bottle contest for the disabled, also shared similar sentiments.
The sports meet-cum-social gathering was not organised by the government or any of its agency. It was organised by the Kutch Vikas Trust, now a household name here, run by the Christian community for the past more than two decades at Raydhanpar village. Originally set up for the rehabilitation of the blind people by its founding father Fr George Kunnath, it has now multiple activities for social and economic development of villages.
Stating that Father Kunnath was really a father figure to the disabled in the border district for his genuine rehabilitation work for them for over two decades, M N Gadhavi, himself visually challenged, and president of the Kutch Andh Kalyan Samiti, said that the sports meet has been organised by KVT for the past 19 years without any financial help from the government.
“When the state has a separate ministry for sports and other similar bodies to promote sports, it’s all for the able-bodied not for the disabled. Time and again we have given representations to the State Government to organise special meet for the disabled, but all our requests have fallen on deaf ears all these years,” Gadhavi said.
Pointing out that though the Government has created a new post of commissioner for the disabled and appointed a blind person on it for the past one year, Gadhavi said the incumbent has no power to do concrete things for the disabled. “He formulates schemes for the disabled and forwards them to his higher-up in the Social Defence Ministry where no action is taken,” Gadhavi said. He said there were however such all-India meets organised by the Central Government where participation was mainly from Kutch as it was only here that district-level sports meet was being organised on a large scale and on a regular basis by KVT.
Meanwhile, describing the sports event as unique and praising KVT, District Social Defence Officer V R Patel informed that the State Government had considerably revised scholarships for the disabled from this month. He said the scholarship amount had been upped from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 upto Class VII and Rs 1,500 upto Class XII. He said the sum was Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000 now for graduation and post-graduation respectively for the disabled.
Courtesy - Expressindia.com - New Delhi,India