Volume 7 Issue 5 - March 01, 2010

Finally, disability finds a place in the Union Budget!

Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Union Budget 2010
Pranab Mukherjee presenting the Union Budget 2010

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: A Sign Language Research Institute, more than 80 percent increase in fund allocation and tax benefits are a few highlights of the Union Budget 2010 presented by Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee on February 26, which brought some cheer to the disability sector.

Mukherjee announced that the plan outlay of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has been increased by 80 percent from last year to Rs.4500 crore this year. He said that this will enable the Ministry to set up an Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre. The allocation for disabled-friendly schemes has been raised to Rs. 398 crore, a step up from previous year's spend of Rs. 243.29 crore.

This is a small victory for the disability sector which has long been demanding implementation of the chapter on disability in the XIth Five Year Plan.

The Budget also increased investment in schemes for implementation of the Disability Act of 1995 to Rs. 95 crore from the previous Rs. 7.5 crore. The allocation on schemes for employment of disabled persons has been increased by over 50 percent to Rs. 7 crore.

Direct tax deduction with respect to maintenance, including medical treatment, of a dependent who is a person with severe disability has been raised from the present limit of Rs. 75,000 to Rs. 100,000.

Besides these, District Disability Rehabilitation Centres are also to be set up in 50 additional districts, along with two Composite Regional Centres for persons with disabilities.

It may be mentioned that following a dharna at the Planning Commission on December 3, Javed Abidi, Convenor, Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.) brought up the issue of non – implementation of the Plan with Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairperson, Planning Commission and also with Mukul Wasnik, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment.

National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People had also written to the Prime Minister and Finance Minister in January this year urging them to ensure that the mandate for disability in the XIth Plan is reflected in the Union Budget.

Sadly though, the Railway Budget had nothing for disabled people.

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