Coronavirus lockdown: Rs 1000 aid for disabled inadequate, says disability rights body

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NPRD General Secretary Muralidharan said the Centre should have announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5,000 per month to all disabled till the lockdown was lifted. (Representational)

Expressing disappointment over the relief measures announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the disabled amid the 21-day lockdown due to coronavirus, the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) Thursday said the ex-gratia amount of Rs 1000 was "very meagre" and "grossly inadequate".

NPRD General Secretary Muralidharan said the Centre should have announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5,000 per month to all disabled till the lockdown was lifted.

"What has added insult to injury is the fact that this will be given in two installments spread over three months, which would average to Rs. 333.33 per month. This is grossly inadequate," Muralidharan said.

Sitharaman on Thursday announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore package under Garib Kalyan Yojana that would largely benefit unorganised sector workers, especially daily wage workers, and urban and rural poor. She announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 in two installments over three months for poor senior citizens over 60 years, widows and the disabled. "This will benefit 3 crore poor senior citizens, widows and disabled," she said.

Moreover, Muralidharan pointed that around half of the disabled population identified by the 2011 Census do not possess a disability certificate which is mandatory for availing government schemes.

"Therefore, even this miserly amount is not available to a large number of persons. In addition, the 2011 census had enumerated only persons having seven disabling conditions. Since then the number of conditions recognised as disabling has increased three-fold to 21," he said.

Muralidharan rued that most of the disabled, who come from socially and economically deprived backgrounds, were amongst the worst hit due to the lockdown and are left to fend for themselves.

"What else to expect from a government which has long abandoned its responsibilities towards the weaker and marginalised sections of society," he said.