Jalandhar, July 7
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have claimed to have presented the Union Budget 2019-20 with an aim to taking the Indian economy to $5 trillion and raising the standard of living of all sections of society, the differently abled community in the district have expressed their apprehensions over the matter and said the differently abled were completely neglected.
State disability activist and PwD coordinator Amarjit Singh Anand, who is also a member of the Punjab State Divyangjan Advisory Board, while talking to The Tribune said: “The Finance Minister maintained a complete silence on the flagship ‘Accessible India’ campaign launched by the first term of the Modi government under which it was promised that 600 public buildings, 600 official websites and transport systems would be made accessible to the differently abled community, but nothing got materialised even after five years.”
While in earlier Budgets, at least accessibility of railways was talked about, here the FM gave it a complete miss. In the ‘Majboot desh ke liye majboot nagrik’ scheme of things, that the FM was waxing eloquent, the differently abled did not seem to figure at all, he said.
Claiming the Budget to be merely another policy to fool people, Anand threw light on the government’s past promises and said the National University of Rehabilitation Science and Disability Studies announced in 2015 and the National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation promised in 2016 were yet to see the light of the day.
Activists also raised concerns over no allocations made for the implementation of various provisions contained in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
The activists said even for the Scheme for Implementation for Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, the increase has been a mere Rs 15 crore. The Demand for Grants for the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities shows a marginal increase of Rs 134 crore only. Even the “Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances” has seen an increase of a paltry Rs 6.58 crore.
“While pension for the differently abled continues to remain at a meager Rs 300 for the past several years, the proposal to set up a “Social Stock Exchange” shows yet again the abandonment of the government’s commitment to the welfare of its citizens, especially the marginalised,” they added.
Anand said the announcements made to vigorously pursue privatisation of various public sector undertakings, including the railways, would adversely affect the community and would see the bourgeoning in the ranks of the unemployed divyangs.
Moreover, no stress had been laid on intellectual disability in the Budget and neither does the state government had any policy in this regard, he added.
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