D.N.I.S. News Network, India: N.C.P.E.D.P. has written to the Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, and the Railways Minister, Mamata Banerjee, with a list of suggestions for the government to bear in mind while deciding the Union Budget as well as the Railways Budget this year.
“The 11th five year plan (2007-12) addresses disability as a cross cutting issue and seeks every ministry to have a plan for disability and to allocate at least three percent of the budget towards the same. However, the implementation of these laws and policies has been extremely tardy,” said Javed Abidi, Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.).
“Disability should be specifically mentioned in the Budget Speech, not as a charity or welfare issue but as a cross cutting, development, human resource and a human rights issue,” he added.
Another demand was that each concerned Ministry or Department should reserve not less than 3% of their annual outlay for the benefit of disabled persons as enjoined in The Disability Act, 1995 and as clearly stated in the XI Five Year Plan. The disability budget and its utilisation should be presented in the Annual Reports of the Ministries.
“The Government should also take a re-look at the Incentive Scheme for Employers proposed in the previous budget that was to provide jobs to 100,000 disabled people,” added Abidi.
Demands also included the setting up of a National Centre to facilitate and support the development of Universal Design and barrier-free built environment, a Sign Language Research and Training Centre devoted to the development and promotion of sign language and training of teachers and interpreters and a National Captioning Centre to provide sub-titling and captioning services.
As far as the Railway Budget is concerned, the suggestions included making stations disabled friendly, allocating appropriate seats in coaches at the time of booking and following the universal design concept in the special coaches meant for people with disability.
“The design of all coaches should follow the universal design concept and should be accessible for all. There should be a clear plan to design coaches which are inclusive, so that disabled people can travel with dignity and comfort in whichever class or compartment that they wish to, from say a general category bogey to a Ist AC Coach,” said Abidi.
The letter also called for making disability concessions available on all trains, besides making the website of the Railways disabled friendly.
Javed Abidi also met senior officials at the P.M.O. regarding the suggestions, who had assured him that they will look into the suggestions.
These suggestions were made after a wide consultation with groups working in the disability sector and across disabilities.