The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) expresses its strong disappointment at the relief measure announced by the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitaraman, today pertaining to disabled citizens.
The Minister has announced a one time ex gratia amount of Rs. 1000/- for disabled persons through Direct Transfer. The amount by itself is very meagre and adding insult to injury is the fact that this will be given in two instalments spread over three months, which would average to Rs. 333.33 per month. This is grossly inadequate.
Besides, around half of the disabled population identified by the 2011 census do not possess a disability certificate mandatory for any entitlement under schemes, as per data released by the Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India. Therefore, even this miserly amount is not available to a large number of persons identified by the 2011 census. In addition, the 2011 census had enumerated only persons having seven disabling conditions. Since then the number of conditions recognised as disabling has increased three-fold to 21.
The vast mass of the disabled, who come from the most socially and economically deprived backgrounds and who are amongst the worst hit during such times are left to fend for themselves.
What else to expect from a government which has long abandoned its responsibilities towards the weaker and marginalised sections of society.
It needs to be borne in mind that apart from bearing costs towards aids & appliances and their maintenance, many disabled persons also need a full time caregiver. Often, an earning member of the family has to give up employment for this purpose. The burden of the household increases manifold and accentuates poverty.
What is needed is an ex gratia payment of Rs. 5,000 per month to all disabled, till the lockdown is lifted and the country is rid of the Corona virus.
Muralidharan, General Secretary