The National Federation of the Blind (Tamil Nadu) has called for launching a social security plan to meet the primary needs of visually challenged persons. The plan, benefitting those in below poverty line category and low income groups, should provide monthly 30 kg of rice, free housing and Rs. 1,500 towards special monthly assistance.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, the general secretary of Madurai Unit, M. Ilango, said that a special recruitment drive should be conducted to fill up vacancies in Group C and D vacancies in all Government and quasi Government institutions besides public sector undertakings falling under the purview of the State Government. This would provide employment to thousands of visually challenged persons.

A 21-point memorandum pressing various demands has been submitted to the State Government. The Federation also requested the Chief Minister to provide free land for constructing its offices and project training centres in all district headquarters including Chennai and Madurai.

The scholarships and Readers allowance amount should also be increased three-fold from the present Rs. 5,500 for undergraduates and Rs.6,500 for postgraduates. The Federation also demanded the immediate filling up of the 40-odd vacancies in the ten State-run special schools for the visually challenged.

P. Manoharan, project director for south India, thanked the Chief Minister for promising to announce a new plan in the upcoming State Budget.

The food allowance for students in these special schools must be increased to Rs. 700 a month per student from the present Rs. 240. All the school students should be given the Braille text books at the beginning of the academic year itself.

Mr. Ilango added that the district administrations should also be urged to allot land to the visually challenged for opening telephone booths.

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