The BJP government at the center, while bestowing divine status and a label of ‘divyang’ to the disabled persons, has been pursuing policies that confine disabled citizens to the margins. The Budget presented by the Finance Minister in Parliament reflects the complete indifference of this government towards the issues and demands of the disabled persons. In earlier budgets too, the disabled were disregarded or neglected. But this time they have been cold shouldered. The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) calls upon the disabled community to rise in unison and protest this disabled-unfriendly deplorable budget.
The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) has issued the following statement:
February 1, 2021
The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) issued a Press Statement strongly protesting the substantial reduction in budgetary support to the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. Even the meagre and inadequate Rs.1325.39 crores estimated last time, has been further reduced to Rs. 1171.77 crores this time.This substantial reduction of nearly 12 per cent will adversely impact various schemes and programmes that are being undertaken by the department.
NPRD pointed out that the “Scheme for Implementation for Persons with Disabilities Act” sees a cut in its allocation from Rs. 251.50 to Rs. 209.77 crores in the Budget. The allocation for The National Trust which caters to persons with autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities etc. ha been reduced from Rs. 39.50 to Rs. 30.00 crore. Even allocations to the National Programme for Prevention of Blindness have been reduced by nearly 50 per cent from Rs. 20.00 to Rs.10.50 crores as compared to last year. Grant in aid to state governments have also been reduced substantially.
When more disabled people are joining the ranks of the unemployed, it was required to enhance allocations for the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation, to enable it to provide loans to small businesses set up by disabled people. On the contrary budgetary support to the NHFDC has been drastically reduced from Rs. 41 crore provisioned in the 2019-20 budget to a mere Rs. 0.01 crore this time.
The announcements made to vigorously pursue privatization of various public sector undertakings will adversely impact the disabled persons also. With the government unrelenting on the demand to extend reservations to the private sector, shrinking employment avenues in the government sector will see the ranks of the unemployed disabled rising more sharply.
The total expenditure earmarked for the national programmes for welfare of persons with disabilities has been reduced from Rs. 655 to Rs. 584 crores. The total towards schemes/projects has been reduced from Rs. 780.00 to Rs. 709.77 crores, this time. The total expenditure towards Social security & welfare has seen a reduction from Rs. 1126.79 to Rs. 988.59. Disability pension continues to be stagnant at Rs. 300 for the past many years.
In the pandemic situation, which saw a huge escalation in the number of mental health cases, the allocations made towards mental health displays the total lack of acknowledgement of the crisis. Allocations to the National Mental Health Programme remains constant at Rs. 40.00 crore. No support has been earmarked for the National Institute of Mental Health & Research for the last two years. However, there has been a slight increase in allocations to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru and the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoli Regional Institute of Mental Health, Tezpur.
What is even more glaring is the complete omission of flagship programme started by this government the Accessible India campaign.