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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 10 New Delhi, February 22, 2020

Budget Justice Eludes Persons with Disabilities: Strong Case for More Resources

Friday 28 February 2020, by Bharat Dogra

In recent years there has been growing concern that adequate resources are not available for persons with disabilities and for implementation of new legislation related to their needs and rights. Hence a significant increase in allocation for disability-affected persons was needed and expected in the Union Budget but the recently presented Budget has failed to live up to these expectation and needs. What is even more difficult to understand is the reduction made in some important allocations.

Table 1

Allocation and Expenditure of Select Schemes of Department for Empowerment of People with Disabilities, Govt. of India

During the last four years the Budget of the Department for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities has amounted to just 0.04 per cent of the total expenditure of the Union Government. This is clearly very inadequate, in fact shockingly so, and should be increased significantly.

On top of it there have been some difficulties to understand the reductions. A review of the allocations for this department prepared by two organisations—the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability and EQUALS—has observed,

“It is to be noted that almost all schemes that lead to the participation of persons with disabilities such as Assistance to Disabled Persons for purchasing/fitting of aids/appliances (ADIP), Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO), National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC) show a declining trend. The Research and Rehabilitation Institutes as well as the Institute of Sign Language find no allocation this financial year. The Scheme for Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA) finds a reduction of Rs 63.50 crores when compared to 2019-20 (Budget Estimate).

This observation is supported by statistics presented in Table 1. Although there is also an increase in the allocation for Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme, various reductions are a cause for serious concern. This review adds that the specific allocation by the Department of Health and Family Welfare also sees a decreasing trend in this year’s Budget.

There has been a small increase in the allocation for the Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension, but only a very moderate one.

Clearly much higher allocations for the welfare and empowerment of persons with disability are needed.

Bharat Dogra is a freelance journalist and the author of a recently published book, Protecting Earth for Children—Crucial Role of Next Decade.

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