Benefits of government schemes don’t reach the disabled

February 21st, 2008 - 11:19 am ICT by admin  

(Special)
By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) The disabled in India comprise only 1.5 percent of the total beneficiaries of various poverty alleviation and welfare schemes, government figures reveal. Statistics tell the tale of neglect, of how the benefits of many government schemes don’t percolate to the people with disabilities. Though statutory provisions of the People with Disabilities Act 1995 entitles the 20 million disabled in the country - as per Census 2001 - to share three percent of benefits of any poverty alleviation schemes, the number is exactly half of that.

As per government figures, the number of beneficiaries of different poverty alleviation schemes account for less than 1.5 percent of the total beneficiaries, an abysmally low figure.

The government’s Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities noticed the huge gap between the benefits of government schemes and the disabled while studying beneficiaries of different centrally sponsored poverty alleviation schemes.

According to Javed Abidi of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), as many as 70 percent of PWDs (persons with disabilities) in India live in rural areas and 50 percent of them are extremely poor.

“This is a very liberal estimation of ours. One should know disability leads to poverty and vice-versa,” Abidi told IANS.

“In 2006-07 up to January, there were only 8,374 PWDs among the 895,236 beneficiaries of the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), a ministry for rural development scheme to provide houses to the houseless,” said Manoj Kumar, chief commissioner for persons with disabilities under the ministry of social justice and empowerment.

“Even the percentage of funds utilisation on welfare activities for PWDs in ministries like rural development, housing and poverty alleviation and human resource development varied from 0.37 percent to 1.07 percent in 2006-07,” said Kumar.

The number of PWD beneficiaries in the government’s flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme was only 167,934 against nearly 16 million beneficiaries as of January 2007. In the case of the Swaranjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) for rural employment, there were only 7,498 PWD beneficiaries.

These programmes along with the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) are specifically aimed at helping out people living below the poverty line (BPL) in the country, accounting for over 22 percent of the total population.

The SGRY too appears to be out of the reach of PWDs. Only 1,540 PWDs benefited from the scheme up to January in the 2006-07 fiscal as against a total of 417,801 beneficiaries.

Abidi blames the government’s insensitivity for the situation.

“There is hardly any move to make the disabled aware of their rights to have share in the government schemes. They ask us if they can get work under the NREG scheme,” he said.

According to Abidi, the number of disabled is also far more than 20 million. “Their numbers have gone up to 60 million at least. It could even be much higher.”

Officials feel that there is need to sensitise states and government organisations.

Veena Chhotray, secretary, ministry of social justice and empowerment, said: “How to ensure that the benefits of the schemes reach the people including PWDs has always been a challenge for the government. The disabled people do benefit from welfare schemes, but there is certainly a scope for improvement.”

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