Disability welfare groups demand promised outlay in budget


New Delhi : Disability welfare activists and NGOs working for people with disability have prepared a list of suggestions for the government to bear in mind while deciding the union budget as well as the railways budget this year.

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“The 11th five year plan (2007-12) addresses disability as a cross cutting issue and seeks every ministry to have a plan for disability and to allocate at least three percent of the budget towards the same. However, the implementation of these laws and policies has been extremely tardy,” said Javed Abidi, director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP)

Certain schemes under the Disability Act which came into force in 1995 and the UN Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) ratified by India Oct 1, 2007 were precursors for what was proposed in the 11th plan.

Abidi held that it had been two years since the plan started still few steps had been taken to implement the plan’s provisions.

He said: “Some initiatives which the government has planned can be kick-started by allocating adequate resources and making appropriate announcements in the upcoming union budget.”

After consultations with its members, NCPEDP – an umbrella organisation of various NGOs and civil society organisations working on disability issues – has prepared a list of suggestions that Abidi hopes will be considered in the July budget session in parliament.

Some of the suggestions are that disability be specifically mentioned in the budget speech, not as a charity or welfare issue but as a cross cutting, development, human resource and a human rights issue and that every concerned ministry should reserve not less than three percent of their annual outlay for the benefit of disabled persons as mentioned in The Disability Act, 1995 and as stated in the 11th plan.

“The disability budget and its utilisation should be presented in the annual reports of the ministries,” the proposal said.

In addition, other measures like – establishing a national centre for development of ‘universal design and barrier free built environment’, a sign-language research and training institute, a national captioning centre, a scheme for concessional loans for disabled people, a social security scheme for the mentally disabled, revising income tax exemption to benefit more disabled people and a scholarship scheme for deserving persons with disabilities for training or education abroad – have been suggested.

The proposal also demands a re-look at the Incentive Scheme for Employers proposed in the previous budget that was to provide jobs to 100,000 disabled people.

“The scheme that was announced in the last budget has not proved very effective. Rs.1,800 crore (Rs.18 billion) was allocated and 100,000 jobs for disabled people were promised but it has not resulted in creating even 100 jobs and the money remains unutilized. We call for a genuine incentive scheme as mandated under Section 41 of the Disability Act 1995,” Abidi said.

The proposal also seeks review of the railways budget to make it more disabled friendly.