CHENNAI: The latest Government Order (GO) issued by the Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department of Tamil Nadu has drawn flak from activists working for the welfare of the disabled in the city.
The GO, which has brought in a change in the eligibility criteria for differently abled people availing the old-age pension scheme, states that disabled persons will be provided a monthly allowance of `1,000 only if they are ‘destitute’. The same criteria has been extended to all widows, labourers, deserted wives and unmarried women.
Criticising the order, S Namburajan, State Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of all Types of Differently Abled and Care givers (TARATDAC), said this was in contravention of the UN law.
As stated in the GO, the Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme and the Destitute Differently Abled Pension schemes will both provide pension only to the differently abled who are deprived.
Pension or allowance is being provided to 16 lakh differently abled persons in the State by the Social Welfare and the Welfare for Differently Abled departments. While the latter caters to 1,19,000 beneficiaries, the former covers 2,74,000 persons. With the change, activists claim all the 2, 74,000 beneficiaries will be affected.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRP), persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. “Most have families, and not having one cannot be a reason to deny them allowances. The departments are basically doing this to reduce their beneficiary numbers,” alleged Namburajan.
He further stressed the need to provide the Differently Abled Welfare Department the sole right to provide pension and allowances, as they would understand their needs better. Members from TARATDAC have written to the CM’s office and the departments concerned about the issue. Officials of both Social Welfare and Differently abled departments were not available for comment.
“We really hope that the differently abled will find a reasonable solution, this change is just so unfair,” he added.