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Union and Railway Budgets disappoint

DNIS News Network - The latest Union and Railway Budgets have caused deep disappointment among the disability sector.

Picture of Parliament House.

There had been an air of expectation this year that the concerned Ministers would build upon the facilities and concessions extended last year, to disabled people, through the new Budgets. The latest Union and Railway Budgets have, however, caused deep disappointment among the disability sector.

The only time that disability was mentioned in the Union Budget was when the Finance Minister said that direct taxation concessions (extended to persons with disabilities in the last Budget) would be continued under this Budget too. The concessions in question deal with those for disabled people or for someone who has a disabled dependent.

The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People had earlier sent a list of recommendations to the concerned Ministries before the announcements of this financial year’s Budgets. These recommendations were made keeping in mind the needs and concerns of disabled citizens of India:

For the Railway Budget: Starting with making ‘disability’ a priority, the recommendations addressed issues regarding concessions, accessibility, sensitisation and employment (licences for disabled platform hawkers). The organisation asks for time-bound steps to fulfil the provisions for making the railways disabled-friendly, as mandated under The Disability Act, 1995. The aim should be to formulate a clear-cut policy for all new railway projects (development and expansion plans) to ensure that they include disability access, from the initial planning stage up to completion.

For the Union Budget: Recommendations included announcing disability as a priority area for development in the Union Budget 2005-06; introducing a ‘Composite Plan for the Disabled’ wherein all the concerned Ministries should allocate a certain percentage of their Budget towards the implementation of the provisions under the Disability Act 1995, as envisaged under the Tenth Five Year Plan; spelling out the ‘Incentives’ for the corporates to encourage employment of disabled people in the private sector, as mandated under Section 41 of The Disability Act, 1995; providing incentives to attract multinational companies producing disability goods, so that disabled people in India are able to benefit from good quality / high functioning equipments, which will have direct implication on their quality of life; and announcing incentives to private builders for constructing disabled friendly housing, etc.

(For details about the recommendations, see news on 'NCPEDP submits budget recommendations for Railway and Union Budgets')