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Budget provisions a major letdown for the disabled community

July 6, 2019

Barring one announcement regarding accessible coinage, the much awaited Budget announced by newly appointed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, has no other provisions for the disabled community, leading to an overwhelming sense of disappointment.

For a government that had accessibility for disabled people as one of it's flagship campaigns, the provisions of the Budget announced yesterday came as a big letdown for the disabled community. Apart from announcing a plan to launch new accessible coins for blind and low vision people, there was nothing else.

The issue of accessible currency has been one that the disabled community has been raising time and again and while Mumbai lawyer Amar Jain is happy that the new Narendra Modi government talked about it, he was sceptical about how all the measures announced would actually pan out on the ground.

"I am glad her speech talked about accessible coinage so at least the need of one particular disability has been addressed but I am not sure about the funds allocated to the department and how that will be used.

Disability rights activist Nipun Malhotra was scathing about the funds allocated as well. "Unfortunately, disability aids continue to be taxed and capital outlays towards disability have only seen a marginal increase", tweeted Malhotra. "With no mention of the Accessible India Campaign, I wonder if this is the start of the end of an initiative that never really took off.

The failure to include the disabled community in any welfare scheme has also come as a major disappointment.

The Budget fails to acknowledge the existence of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. It continues to make provisions under the now repealed PwD Act, 1995. No allocations for the implementation of the various provisions contained in the 2016 Act are made. Even for the 'Scheme for Implementation for Persons with Disabilities Act', 1995, the increase has been a mere 15 crore. The Demand for Grants for the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities shows a marginal increase of 134 crore only. Even the Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances has seen an increase of a paltry 6.58 crore. - Murali Dharan Vishwanath, General Secretary, National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled

Ease of living for India was among the many highlights of the Budget announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. However, this does not seem to include the needs of disabled people points out the NPRD. "Disability budgeting and disaggregated data on allocations across various ministries for disability has been one of the key demands of the disabled people's organisations. Unfortunately, this has not been forthcoming. The government remains content with bestowing divine status by labelling them divyang".

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