Tamil Nadu disability rights groups demand increase in financial aid from state government
Last week, Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy announced that a financial aid of Rs 1000 will be given to people with disabilities in the state. There are over 13.5 lakh disabled people across Tamil Nadu. Most of them are now struggling to make ends meet due to lack of jobs and starvation. Disability rights groups point out that the government must increase the amount of financial assistance.
On 24 March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced for a nation-wide lockdown to control spread of Coronavirus. There was widespread criticism from opposition parties that the lockdown was not well-planned due to which lakhs of people lost their jobs had to starve!
India’s disabled community was one of the worst affected. Last week, Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy announced that a financial aid of Rs 1000 will be given to people with disabilities across the state. But the community points out that a meagre amount does not help them to make ends meet which is why the matter must be addressed soon.
Dark times for people with disabilities
In Tamil Nadu, there are over 13.5 lakh disabled people. Experts have pointed out how people with disabilities are vulnerable to COVID. Hence, they must take extra precautions to stay inside their homes. Moreover, the Tamil Nadu government has extended the lockdown till 30 June due to rising number of cases. Many of them who are daily wage workers have lost their jobs. They are unable to survive or feed their families. Since many are the sole bread-winners in the family, the struggles seem to not end anytime soon.
It was last week that Palaniswamy announced for Rs 1000 financial aid. But disability rights activists are asking how the meagre amount will help those from economically backward families, a question that is relevant taking into account the present times.
Urgent need for financial aid
On 10 June, December 3 Movement and The Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC) started a protest across disability offices in the state asking for a Rs 5000 monthly aid. But they had to withdraw the protests due to rise in number of COVID cases.
“We did not want to put the lives of disabled people or their families at risk. So we withdrew the protest. The Rs 1000 financial aid is something that cannot be appreciated nor discouraged. We are glad that authorities have heard our demands to provide aid, but this amount is not something that can help a person survive during these times. The livelihood of disabled people are in a dark and sad phase right now. So we expect better help”, says TMN Deepak, Founder, December 3 Movement.
“Rs 1000 is definitely not sufficient for people with disabilities to survive for even a month. It is also important that state government provides ID cards without delay so that disabled people can avail benefits. People are afraid to go out now. The government must act without delay”, says Gnana Bharati, President, SICA, Tamil Nadu.
With the pandemic unlikely to end soon and lockdowns being extended, disabled people are not going to be able to work for a while. That is why government and concerned officials must step up to reach out to the disabled community now.
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