Govt should bear full cost of motorised tricycles for disabled

Government’s reliance on MP/MLA funds to bridge the gap between actual cost and subsidy to help disabled people buy motorised tricycles have come in for criticism from a Parliamentary panel.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment believes that this formula is “not a viable option” as it depends a lot on the lawmakers’ “discretion and priorities”. The beneficiaries also “may not have access” to local MPs or MLAs to various reasons.

Goverment-owned ALIMCO (Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India) manufactures motorised tricycles at a cost of Rs 37,000 while the government provides a subsidy of Rs 25,000 once in ten year for disabled people from deprived sections.

While noting that the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities has no proposal to meet the entire cost “due to constraint of funds”, the panel acknowledged that beneficiaries covered under the scheme is not in a position to meet the cost difference and is deprived of the benefit.

Even if somehow they could approach MPs/MLAs, there is no guarantee that they would get the requited amount from them. Also, funding from this source depends lot on the discretion and priorities of the concerned MP/MLA,” it said as it asked the Department to approach Ministry of Finance for more money to meet the extra financial burden.

The multi-party panel headed by BJP MP Ramesh Bais was also critical about the subsidy being given only once in ten years for buying motorised tricycles citing the poor condition of roads in the country.

Considering the “condition of roads throughout the country is not so good, particularly in rural areas”, it recommended that disabled should be given subsidy once in five years rather than the existing ten years. The poor condition of roads not only results in shorter span of motorised vehicles but also gradually increases the maintenance cost within 5-6 years, it said.

“As most of the PwDs (Persons with Disabilities) covered under the scheme come from deprived and poor section of the society, it is very difficult, if not possible, for them to meet the increased maintenance cost of motorised tricycles,” the committee said the existing norm of providing subsidy in ten years is “unjustified and needs to be reviewed”.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jan 8, 2018)

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