Tamil Nadu’s visually-impaired chair weavers seek government intervention to make ends meet

Express News Service

COIMBATORE: With modern chairs making inroads into government offices, visually challenged persons who are trained in weaving wire chairs are struggling to make ends meet. They urge the government to protect their livelihood.

R Selvakrishnan (44), a visually challenged person living at Ondipudur, has been weaving chairs for 22 years. He said, “Till 15 years ago, people like me were appointed in regular posts such as transport department and universities, etc, to make wire chairs and the going was smooth for us. Now, chairs made of plastic in different shapes have occupied government offices. Also, posts meant for visually challenged people remain vacant.” He alleged that officials were handing out the orders to private companies.
Selvakrishnan said he used to get orders for making 50-60 chairs in a month in 2010. “Now I make only 15 chairs in a month through some private and government job orders. My monthly income is Rs 10,000 and this is also not regular,” he added.

Another visually impaired person R Krishnamoorthy (73), who worked at Government College of Technology in Coimbatore for the last ten years on a temporary basis, urged the State government to instruct government departments to give the job orders for making chairs only to visually challenged people.

Association for the Rights of Visually Challenged president R Srinivasan told TNIE, “Earlier, the government identified three types of jobs such as running telephone booths, selling lottery tickets and re-caning wire chairs to be fit for visually challenged people. Except for making chairs, the other two jobs do not exist anymore. After a visually challenged person’s retirement, the government neither filled the vacant post nor showed any interest in their welfare.”

The government should identify trained visually challenged people across the State through the department of welfare of differently-abled persons and give the government jobs in concerned departments as before to protect their livelihood, Srinivasan requested.

When contacted, an official in the State Commissionerate for the Welfare of Differently Abled in Chennai told TNIE, “The matter will be taken to the attention of the secretary.”

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