Delhi CM fails to deliver on promise of extra disability pension during pandemic, leaving thousands helpless
At the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, the Delhi government had announced that pensions for people with disabilities would be doubled as it would be hard for them to go out to work during the lockdown. But since April, no disability pension has been released leaving many stranded and desperate.
This was the tweet by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in March this year:
“Government officials said currently beneficiaries of disabled and widow pensions get ₹ 2,500 per month. Old age pension stands at ₹ 2,000 per month for those between 60-69 years and ₹ 2,500 for those above 70. “₹ 4,000-5,000 pension will be paid to 8.5 lakh beneficiaries by 7 April”.
Writer-podcaster Akshika Agarwal is still waiting for that promise to be fulfilled. The lockdown has taken a severe toll in this 31-year-old who has cerebral palsy. Her father lost his job soon after lockdown and now the family depends on her mother’s income.
Leave alone the extra sum promised, Akshika has not received even the basic amount of ₹ 2,500. Nothing has been released by the Delhi government since March end.
No disability pension released since March
“It’s not easy for a person with disability to find employment and I depend on the disability pension to meet some of my expenses”, says Akshika who is 31 years old. “It’s been two months since I got the money and right now with my father out of a job this money is especially needed. Right now, my mom is bearing all the household expenses”.
Like Akshika, thousands of people with disabilities in the national capital are struggling. Kusum Kanwal, who has an 84% locomotor disability, is now totally dependent on her elderly parents. “I don’t work and stay home, and this pension is critical for me. Now I am totally dependent on my mother and father”.
Lack of funds cited
Ankit Bharadwaj, who has cerebral palsy, is also affected but he is fortunate compared to many others. “My family is well-off and can support me. I don’t depend on the disability pension unlike many others who come from poorer backgrounds. I know of many people who are struggling”.
Ankit, who is associated with prominent NGOs Yes We Can and Action for Ability Development and Inclusion (AADI), says the matter was taken up with Delhi government authorities. Their response – they had no funds as all the money is being directed towards COVID fighting efforts.
“Even the original amount of ₹ 2500 is not being sent and nor is the State Disability Commission responding to our pleas”, says Ankit. The least they can do is release the basic amount guaranteed.
The vulnerabilities faced by the disabled community have only heightened during the pandemic which shows no signs of coming under control. Delhi is among the worst hit states in India. Given this situation, it is cruel to deny people with disabilities the only source of income they have.
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