In a landmark move, the Centre has announced 14 new categories of physical and mental disabilities under one umbrella term of Disability Act 2016. A senior official in the social justice and empowerment ministry said that under the new notification, acid attack survivors will be treated as disabled. The notification is scheduled to be implemented from next month.

The present Disability Act provides benefits to only seven categories of people who face or are suffering from mental retardation, mental illness, blindness, locomotive, leprosy, low vision and hearing impairment.

The new notification has included seven more categories — making it a total 14 categories which will come under the ambit of the Disability Act 2016. Besides acid attack survivors, Disability Act will also include cerebral palsy, dwarfism, thalassemia, multiple sclerosis, spectrum disorder, Parkinson’s disease, learning disabilities, multiple dystrophy, sickle cell disease, autism and deafness.

Under the earlier Rights Of Persons With Disabilities Act 1995, only people with 40 per cent and above disability enjoyed the benefits of the Act. Though in 2001, the government had formulated more extensive disability assessment guidelines, it was all in vain. The actual percentage of disability was still not measurable.

Shaheen Malik of the Delhi Women’s Commission, applauded the move. She said, “Adding acid attack survivors to this category is the best thing the government is doing.”

The move is also being praised by many social activists across the country.

“Now if the disabled do not get private jobs, they can get government entitlements,” Malik added.

“The health ministry is soon going to submit its report to the social justice and empowerment ministry. Presently, only people with 40 per cent and above are entitled to the benefits and till the time it is fully implemented, the same has to be followed,” said a ministry official.

Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, in one his tweets, said, “We have decided to pay female acid attack victims Rs 8,000 per month under the Punjab Financial Assistance To Acid Victims Scheme 2017.”

The new rules will be stringent and the government will make sure that rightful beneficiaries are not neglected.

Kavya Kothiyal Is An Intern With SheThePeople.TV

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