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PM unhappy with scheme for disabled

Seventeen months ago, the government had planned to provide one-lakh jobs annually to the disabled in the private sector by giving incentives to companies. But instead of about 1.5 lakh jobs that should have been generated by now, the figure stands at a low of 119. A mere 0.08 per cent of the intended target.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2009 01:57 IST
Vikas Pathak

Seventeen months ago, the government had planned to provide one-lakh jobs annually to the disabled in the private sector by giving incentives to companies. But instead of about 1.5 lakh jobs that should have been generated by now, the figure stands at a low of 119. A mere 0.08 per cent of the intended target.

Addressing a conference of state ministers of welfare and social justice on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made his displeasure clear at the progress of the ambitious Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.

Ironically, the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry’s recently released annual report 2008-09 listed the scheme under the “major achievements” of the year.

The offer to private companies under the scheme said, hire disabled and the central government will pay the employer’s contribution to the Employees Provident Fund and Employees State Insurance for the first three years for employees earning up to Rs 25,000 a month.

But the scheme – having a total outlay of Rs 1,800 crore for the 11th Five Year Plan — has simply failed to take off.

The Prime Minister said: “This scheme has been in operation since April 1, 2008. However, it has unfortunately not made much headway in the last one-and-a-half year.”

Three days ago, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik, too, had rebuked officials of the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation, and said: “Whether problems are with the states or my ministry, these have to be sorted out.”

At the same meeting Social Justice secretary K M Acharya admitted, “The response is not adequate.”

He listed two reasons for the failure. First, the economic slowdown made companies reluctant to hire — a reason the Prime Minister, too, has cited. Second, central and state governments could not publicise the scheme extensively.

Acharya’s suggestion was to “proactively approach private sector employers with this scheme.”
There are over two crore disabled people in India and there is a three per cent reservation for them in the public sector. The present scheme was an attempt to secure private sector jobs for people with disability.