At the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, the Delhi government announced that pensions for people with disabilities would be doubled as it would be difficult for them to get out to work during the lockdown. But since April, no disability pension has been released, leaving many stranded and desperate.
It was the tweet from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in March of this year:
âGovernment officials have said that recipients of disability and widow’s pensions currently receive 2,500 per month. The old-age pension is 2,000 per month for those aged 60-69 and 2,500 for those over 70. “A pension of 4,000 to 5,000 will be paid to beneficiaries of 8.5 lakh by April 7.”
Writer-podcaster Akshika Agarwal is still waiting for this promise to be kept. Containment has taken its toll on the 31-year-old man with cerebral palsy. Her father lost his job shortly after confinement and now the family depends on her mother’s income.
Leaving aside the additional promised sum, Akshika did not even receive the base amount of 2,500. Nothing has been released by the Delhi government since the end of March.
No disability pension released since March
âIt’s not easy for a disabled person to find a job and I depend on the disability pension to meet some of my expenses,â says Akshika, 31. âIt has been two months since I received the money and at the moment with my unemployed father this money is particularly needed. At the moment, my mother is taking care of all the household expenses â.
Like Akshika, thousands of people with disabilities in the nation’s capital are struggling. Kusum Kanwal, who has an 84% locomotor disability, is now totally dependent on her elderly parents. âI don’t work and stay at home, and this pension is essential for me. Now, I am totally dependent on my mother and my father â.
Lack of funds cited
Ankit Bharadwaj, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is also affected but he is lucky compared to many others. âMy family is well off and can support me. I am not dependent on the disability pension unlike many others who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. I know a lot of people who are struggling â.
Ankit, which is associated with leading NGOs Yes we can and Action for Capacity Development and Inclusion (AADI), said the issue was discussed with government authorities in Delhi. Their response – they had no funds because all the money is directed towards COVID efforts.
âEven the initial amount of 2,500 is not sent and the National Commission for People with Disabilities is also not responding to our requests,â Ankit said. The least they can do is unlock the guaranteed base amount.
The vulnerabilities facing people with disabilities have only increased during the pandemic, which shows no signs of being brought under control. Delhi is one of the most affected states in India. In the face of this situation, it is cruel to deny people with disabilities the only source of income they have.
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