Coronavirus relief for disabled citizens inadequate & disappointing, say disability rights activists
The much awaited relief package for marginalised people affected by the coronavirus pandemic has come as a disappointment for the disabled community. Not only is the amount meagre, the distribution will be spread out in two instalments.
With the number of people affected by coronavirus in India rising everyday, there was much expectation from the government’s economic package. However, the ₹ 1.70 lakh crore package announced has come as a disappointment for the disabled community.
Under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Scheme, the poor disabled will be given ex-gratia an additional amount of ₹ 1,000 which will be given over three months in two instalments.
Expressing its strong disappointment, the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) said the amount is meagre as it is and becomes even more meaningless when spread out over three months.
The amount by itself is very meagre and adding insult to injury is the fact that this will be given in two instalment spread over three months, which would average to ₹ 333.33 per month. This is grossly inadequate. – National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled
Besides even this amount will not be available to many in the disabled community. “As per data available from the office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as of 31 December 2019, only 57.98% of persons with disability have been issued disability certificates”, points out disability rights advocate Akeel Usmani. This means nearly half of the disabled population identified do not possess a disability certificate mandatory for any entitlement under schemes.
Besides, the 2011 Census lists people with seven disabilities. This has now increased to 21.
Pointing out that disabled people have equal rights to society’s scare resources even in times of crises, disability rights groups are asking the government to revise the decision.”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 coronavirus”, says the NPRD.
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