The letter by the executive director of NCPEDP Arman Ali to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

New Delhi: On April 18, the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to increase the COVID-19 lockdown ex-gratia immediately from the present Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000.

The executive director of NCPEDP Arman Ali in a letter to Modi urged for an adequate economic package for rehabilitation of people with disabilities (PwD) who are impacted during the lockdown so that they may be able to resume their lives with independence and dignity.

The Indian government on March 27 released an advanced pension of three months to the differently-abled during the 21-day lockdown. This initiative was launched under the National Social Assistance Program (NSAP) also included a fixed amount of Rs 300 per month for PwD’s who are 79 years old. An amount of Rs 500 was fixed for those which fall in the age group of 80 or more. The Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman besides this also declared the ex-gratia of Rs 1000 for the PwD’s over the next three months.

There should be some form of uniformity in the pension being paid to the PwD throughout the country said the director. He added, “Comprehensive disability-inclusive guidelines for protection and safety of persons with disabilities (Divyangjan) during COVID-19,” which was released by the department of empowerment of PwD’s must be enforced strictly.

Ali also said in his letter that in India 20% of the poor people are PwD’s and out of that almost 70% are either unemployed or are engaged in informal sectors for their livelihood. He also pointed out that the accessibility to valid and right information plays an important role in the inclusion of the PwD’s. He insisted that all announcements should be made inaccessible formats with the preferred use of electronic media like radio and television.

As the lockdown extends even, the norms of physical distancing become very cumbersome for these individuals as they are often dependent on others to perform their daily tasks. Another big barrier for them during the lockdown is mobility as most of the public transportation options are out of the street right now. Hence the simple action buying some essential things during the lockdown becomes yet another hurdle.

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