Disability groups cheered up when a hike in investment in disabled-friendly schemes and the setting up of the country's first sign language training institute was announced by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the general budget on Friday.
"The finance minister's announcement was very heart warming! It is a positive step and in the right direction. We welcome the increase in budget allocations," Javed Abidi, a disability rights activist told IANS.
The allocation in budget 2010-11 for disabled-friendly schemes is Rs.398 crore, a step up from previous year's spend of Rs.243.29 crore.
Investment in schemes for implementation of the Disability Act have been increased manifold to Rs.95 crore from the previous Rs.7.5 crore. The allocation for schemes for employment to disabled persons has been increased by over 50 percent to Rs.7 crore.
Abidi, who is also founder of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), an umbrella organisation for over 100 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on disability issues across India, said he wished that "the budget was more," to expedite the country's 11th five-year plan assuring freely accessible infrastructure and development for disabled people under the Disability Act.
While presenting the budget, the finance minister mentioned the establishing of the country's first sign language institute, which has been one of the three major demands of the disability rights activists.
"The allocation will also assist in establishing an Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre for the benefit of the hearing impaired. District Disability Rehabilitation Centres are being set up in 50 additional districts along with two composite regional centres for persons with disabilities," Mukherjee said.
Taxes liabilities on those caring for disabled dependents have also been relaxed.
Direct tax deduction with respect to maintenance, including medical treatment, of a dependent who is a person with severe disability has been raised from the present limit of Rs.75,000 to Rs.100,000.