Coronavirus-news June 29, 2020
Disability rights experts’ in TN raise concerns over distribution of financial aid
Tamil Nadu state government had announced ₹ 1,000 financial aid for people with disabilities in the state due to Coronavirus crisis and lockdown. But disability groups and experts point out the various concerns that arise while distributing the aid. Read on to know what experts have to speak.
Last week, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had declared that financial aid of ₹ 1,000 will be provided to people with disabilities across the state. Reaching out to disabled people during such tough times is inevitable, but the state government must be more transparent and disabled-friendly too. Experts from Tamil Nadu’s disability groups are raising various concerns.
Tough times for people with disabilities
There are over 13.5 lakh people with disabilities in Tamil Nadu. Livelihood of most of them are affected due to the Coronavirus crisis and lockdown. Moreover, lockdown has been extended in some parts of Tamil Nadu which is one of the worst affected states in India.
The state government has introduced a set of guidelines that will also come into place while distributing the Rs 1000 financial aid.
C Govindakrishnan is the founder of Nethrodaya, an organisation that has been helping Tamil Nadu’s visually impaired community since the year 2002. Govindakrishnan highlights on the various discrepancies and shortcomings that are sure to create anomalies in the implementation of the scheme.
“We sincerely doubt the logic on which a more difficult and cumbersome mode of hard cash distribution has been chosen. Due to the COVID crisis, there exists a severe shortage of staff personnel in all government departments. So how will the distribution process be carried out with such less manpower? Chances of duplication and omission of data are high” he says.
Govindakrishnan also talks about the plight of people with disabilities who are residing in other districts for work and education. According to the guidelines, details on how to they can avail benefits are only going to be announced later.
Hand distribution of the hard cash is only going to add to woes of disabled people during these Coronavirus times. The government must look into other alternatives that can be used in order to distribute the amount. “Chances of the virus spreading through cash notes are high. Both distributing officers and disabled people can get infected through this manner by handing over the notes. They also use the same stamp pad for inserting their thumb impression on official records”, he says.
Insensitivity of officials
The Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently-Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC) has submitted a memorandum to the government. It says that people with disabilities who are staying away from their home districts must be allowed to submit the disability certificate at district disability offices to avail the cash assistance.
S Namburajan is the General Secretary of TARATDAC. According to him, district collectors have said that the amount will be distributed through the Village Administration Officers (VAO). But there are numerous problems likely to arise from that.
“We are concerned and worried about how the state government plans to disburse the amount. In a recent meeting with Chennai district collector, he said that 59,000 certified people with disabilities have been identified in and around Chennai. In this, only very few are even getting the monthly aid. What about the rest? This is a pathetic situation. What is the use of statistics then?”, points out Namburajan.
He further adds, “The state government does not have proper data or addresses of these certified disabled people. A proper decision on how the amount will be distributed has not yet been taken. So how are they going to distribute the financial aid?”.
Namurajan says that manpower is essential to carry out the cash distribution effectively. The government can seek help of local officers or even teachers for that. Since most of the departments are not functioning now, their staffs can be deployed for identifying and providing financial help to disabled people in their local areas.
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