New Delhi: Do we care for our disabled? This is the question that crosses ones mind when one sees the way disabled are treated in the country. Out of 215 District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRC) all over the country, a mere 38 are present in five south Indian states -- Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
According to the 2001 census, India has 2.1 crore disabled or 2,130 people per one lakh population with some kind of disability. However, this figure seems conservative as the United Nations pegs the number of disabled to be more than 10 per cent of our total population. Tamil Nadu, with 1.6 million disabled people, has the fourth largest population of disabled in the country and a higher population of disabled females than males.
Data available with the Express from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment states that Tamil Nadu has only seven DDRCs. The DDRCs are essential as they not only rehabilitate disabled, they also provide them financial assistance to buy equipment such as tricycles, wheelchairs, crutches, rotators, braces, hearing aids and artificial limbs.
Tamil Nadu did not receive even one rupee from the Central government from 2009-10 to 2011-12 for this purpose. Moreover, out of the 26 new DDRCs proposed to be set up in south India, not even one is proposed to be set up in Tamil Nadu. These actions show disinclination on part of the previous government administration in taking up the issue of disabled people.
Andhra Pradesh has performed relatively well with 12 DDRCs. The state has received no money in 2009-10, Rs 1.54 crore in 2010-11 and 17.20 lakh in 2011-12 towards providing facilities to people at these centres. Fifteen new DDRCs are proposed to be set up in the state and work on some of them is already underway.
Karnataka has eight DDRCs. The state received no money from the Centre in 2009-10, Rs 17.20 lakh in 2010-11 and Rs 2.76 lakh in 2011-12 towards providing facilities in these centres. Work on one new DDRC at Kolar is underway in the state. Kerala has three DDRCs. The state received no financial support from the Central government towards providing facilities at these centres from 2009-10 to 2011-12. Seven new DDRCs are proposed to be set up in the state.
Eight centres are situated in Odisha and it received Rs 3.75 lakh in 2009-10, Rs 3.53 lakh in 2010-11 and Rs 8.92 lakh in 2011-12 for providing facilities at these centres. Three new DDRCs are proposed to be set up in the state.