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Disabled Rights Group protest against non - inclusion of disability in Union Budget

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: More than 100 disabled people under the banner of Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.) gathered in front of the Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee’s residence to protest against the non - inclusion of disability in the Union Budget on July 24.

But it was soon called off as the Minister promised to meet a delegation that evening.

Javed Abidi, Convenor, D.R.G., said the Union Budget 2009, unveiled earlier this month, was a big letdown for people with disability.

“We were fully confident that in this budget there would be something for people with disability. If you look at the XIth Five Year Plan, a number of promises were made to the sector. But when the budget was presented, there was nothing substantial for us,” said Abidi.

Vandana Bedi, Consultant, Disability and Development, says, “It is very unfortunate that despite the disability sector being proactive and sending suggestions well ahead of time, there was no mention of it in the budget. The irony is that these were not our suggestions but what the government has already promised to us in the XIth Five Year Plan.”

“All that it had for the sector was tokenism,” she added.

A delegation of representatives from across disability met the Finance Minister later in the evening and put forward their grievances. The Minister assured them that he would look into the matter personally.

The delegation also included Arun Rao, Executive Director, The Deaf Way; A.S. Narayanan, Secretary, National Association of the Deaf; C. Mahesh, Advocacy, Co-ordinator, Community Based Rehabilitation Forum; J.P. Gadkari, President, Parivaar; Ketan Kothari from Sightsavers and Muthamma B. Devaya from N.C.P.E.D.P.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister has raised the limit for tax deductions for severely disabled persons from Rs. 75,000 to Rs. 1 lakh. He made this announcement on July 27 during a debate on the Finance Bill.