‘Scholarships for disabled going waste’

Nearly 6 per cent of the Capital’s total population is physically disabled,but in the last five years,less than 1,000 people have been able to avail of the government’s scholarships for the differently abled,say NGOs and activists working in the Capital.

Written by Sobhana K | New Delhi | Published: February 1, 2009 3:32:27 am

Meagre amounts,long procedure keep eligible students away: activists

Nearly 6 per cent of the Capital’s total population is physically disabled,but in the last five years,less than 1,000 people have been able to avail of the government’s scholarships for the differently abled,say NGOs and activists working in the Capital.

According to them,the figure is set to dip further,as the government has spent merely 24 per cent of the Rs 12-lakh budget allocated. A disabled student pursuing graduation or post-graduation is given Rs 500 per month,while students in Classes I to V get merely Rs 50 a month.

No publicity has been generated for these scholarships and those who need it are not even aware that they exist,Javed Abidi of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People said.

Disabled candidates do not have basic information on where to procure forms or where to submit them.

Each year,the Delhi government hands out these scholarships between April and October. Only disabled persons,whose family income is less than Rs 2,000,are eligible for the scholarships. The slab is too narrow,leaving out many who are in serious need of the scholarship but can’t even apply,activist Kapil Kumar Agarwal said.

The scholarships are not automatically renewable and each candidate has to apply for them afresh every time. The form too,is very complicated and requires at least five to six certificates from various departments. The government should try to maintain a database,Agarwal said.

The government now plans to increase the amount of scholarships and has planned to delegate school principals for the handover of scholarship funds. “We will utilise the entire budget allotted for the scholarship this year itself. In the next financial year,we will raise the amount of the scholarship,” a senior official at the Social Welfare department said. The department,on its part,also blames the scarcity of staff for the current situation. The department is presently facing a 30 per cent staff shortage.

The Disability Act of 1995 mentions that each state should have a disability commissioner. In Delhi,for several decades now,the Social Welfare secretary has handled the charge of commissioner as well. The commissioner’s basic work is to pull up the department in case of shortcomings. “But by giving the dual charge to the social welfare secretary,policing rights are being given to the burglar himself,” Abidi said.

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