Differently-abled protest against low pensions

Berhampur: Disabled persons took out a rally at Chhatrapur, the headquarter town of Ganjam district, on occasion of World Disabled Day on Saturday demanding fulfilment of their demands.

The demands include raising of disabled pension from Rs 200 to Rs 1000/month, inclusion of all disabled persons in below poverty line (BPL) category, provision of cheap rice at Rs two per kg and filling of vacancies reserved for the disabled.

A memorandum containing their demands was sent to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik through district administration. "The disabled persons in the state are neglected due to apathetic attitude of the government," General Secretary, Ganjam district Orthopaedically Handicapped Welfare Association K Anand Rao said.

While some of the disabled rallyists rode tricycles, others walked with the help of crutches and canes.
"Odisha is the only state, where the disabled are getting a meagre amount as pension," said Suresh Sahu of an NGO working for the disabled persons in the district.

"While Odisha government is providing only Rs 200/month as disabled pension, neighbouring states like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand are giving Rs 700, Rs 600 and Rs 700 per month respectively?, he said.

Similarly, disabled persons were getting higher amount in states like Uttar Pradesh (Rs 900 per month) Tamil Nadu (Rs 800 per month), Goa (Rs 1500) and Delhi (Rs 1000), Rao added. "We urge the government that pension for the disabled should be increased to least Rs 1000 per month," he added.

Rao said the government had declared reservation of three per cent in all government jobs for handicapped. But only 0.67 per cent of the handicapped were working in the public sectors.