The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) has issued the following statement:

The NPRD expresses its complete disenchantment with the 2020-21 budget. Like last year, this year too, the Finance Minister made just one passing reference to the disabled (divyang) combining them with the elderly. In the “caring India” scheme of things, that the Finance Minister waxed eloquent, the disabled do not figure at all. Omission of flagship programmes of this government like the Accessible India campaign are glaring. Contrary to the claim made in the President’s speech on the opening day of this session that the “Government is working with utmost sensitivity towards fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the divyangjan”, budgetary provisions exposes its total apathy and insensitivity.

The budget fails to acknowledge the existence of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. It continues to make provisions under the now repealed PwD Act, 1995. No allocations for the implementation of the various provisions contained in the RPD Act, 2016 are made. It is appalling that there has been a reduction in allocations for the “Scheme for Implementation for Persons with Disabilities Act”, 1995. The Demand for Grants for the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities shows a marginal increase of Rs. 225 crores only. Even the “Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances” has seen an increase of a paltry Rs. 7.5 crores.

There has been no announcement of enhancing disability pension which continues to remain at a measly Rs. 300/- per month.

The government seems oblivious of the alarming increase in the number of suicides and mental health issues coming to the fore as also the commitments made under the Mental Health Care Act 2017. This is exposed by its refusal to make any substantial increase in the allocations for the National Mental Health programme. In fact, there has been a decrease in allocations to the National Institute of mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru and the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoli Regional Institute of Mental Health, Tezpur.

The announcements made to vigorously pursue privatization of various public sector undertakings including the railways will adversely affect the disabled 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 bourgeoning in the ranks of the unemployed disabled.

Disability budgeting and disaggregated data on allocations across various ministries for disability has been one of the key demands of disabled people’s organisations. Unfortunately, this has not been forthcoming.  The government remains content with bestowing divine status and a label of divyang, even while confining disabled citizens to the margins.

The NPRD lodges its strong protest against this continuing abject neglect of the disabled community.