Among the budget announcements made by Finance Minister K. Anbazhagan on Friday, the most popular seems to have been the one on creation of a new government department for disabled persons, to be supervised directly by the Chief Minister. “We are very happy that this has been implemented. In fact it has been part of our demands for the last 25 years. This indicates prioritising the issues of the disabled and we welcome it,” said K. Gopinath, member of the Tamil Nadu Disabled Welfare Board. T.A.P. Varadakutti, State President, Tamil Nadu Association for the welfare of the Physically Handicapped, added “In my view, the budget fulfils the aspirations of the worst-affected in the disability sector.” He complimented the Chief Minister for his initiative in setting up the new department. He also introduced a note of sobriety in the moment of celebration by articulating the disappointment of the rights lobby which believed that disabled-friendly access, and appointment of a person with legal background as State Commissioner for the Disabled, would be announcements.
S. Namburaj, secretary, Confederation for Mentally Challenged, also welcomed the move for a separate department for the disabled. Meenakshi B, who is part of the Disability Legislation Unit of Vidya Sagar said, “Basically, it is a good initiative that the government has started thinking of disability at the policy level. We hope that the government would also make clear what the exact functions of this department are.