More than half the disabled population of Karnataka does not have a Unique Disability ID card (UDID),therefore, depriving them of benefits such as schemes and pensions.
As many as 54.82 percent disabled people do not have Unique Disability ID cards (UDID) in Karnataka. Not having these ID cards means disabled people cannot avail the benefits reserved for them such as, concessions in medical expenses and education, and pension .
Dhruva, a person with a locomotor disability who undergoes treatment at Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, said that he got an assessment approval letter of disability from his doctor but his application for UDID card is still not processed. He added that the entire process is online but since he is not very good at technology, he finds it difficult to do it. He said that if he had this card, he would have got a concession in his treatment expenses.He added that he had to come thrice for assessment to get the disability approval certificate. “It is difficult to come so many times,” he added.
Technology is not the only challenge. Age, too, is. Young children cannot get the ID cards.
The father of an 11-year-old boy Rajath, who is suffering from hearing and vision impairment, said that he brings him to the Bowring Hospital every week for tests. The child did not have a problem with vision at a young age but slowly he is developing vision impairment as well. His father said that the treatment has not shown any positive results in three months but he is hoping for the best. He added that he has to bear the entire expense as Rajath can have a UDID card after turning 18 and only then he can avail concession in treatment expenses.
A total of 13,24,205 people are disabled in Karnataka, according to the 2011 census. Out of this, only 7,26,038 people have UDID cards. This census is outdated as the population of Karnataka has grown from 6.11 crore people in 2011 to around 6.79 crore people in 2023. Siddheshwara, Director of the Department for the Empowerment of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens, said that a new census is required to know the exact number of disabled people in the state so that more cards can be given out and more people get the benefit of centre and state schemes.
Dr. T Kemparaj, Medical Superintendent at Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital said that they give disability approval certificates to people who have a minimum 40 percent disability. The hospital mainly assesses psychiatric, polio, vision, and hearing disabilities, he said. “We see over 200 patients per month who wish to apply for UDID Cards, but many of them don’t get one as they do not meet the eligibility critera,” he added.
According to the information from the Department for the Empowerment of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens, they have received 10,76,188 applications till Nov. 7, 2023, from Karnataka for UDID cards through the Swavlamban Card web portal. More than 1.5 lakh applications were rejected due to reasons such as not meeting the eligibility criteria during assessment and mismatching of name from Aadhar card.
A total of 215 government hospitals across Karnataka have the right to assess the disability of the person and issue an assessment certificate that includes all health details. Bengaluru has nine such hospitals. A person can also get this certificate from the hospital they take treatment from only if they have an acknowledgment letter from the web portal saying that the person has registered on the portal.
Siddheshwara mentioned that earlier only seven disabilities were considered for giving UDID cardsbut now 21 disabilities are covered under disability cards. These include blindness, deafness, mental illness, intellectual disability, brain injury, and physical disabilities like locomotor disability.
If a person has a UDID card they will not have to carry multiple documents as the card will contain all the necessary details which can be decoded with the help of a reader. The card will serve as a single document of identification for availing benefits like concessions in education and health expenses, to reserved seats for disabled in educational institutes and jobs, and a monthly pension. The card will help in keeping track of the physical and financial progress of beneficiary.
Karnataka gives Rs. 500 per month as pension to persons with 40 to 74 percent disability and Rs. 1,000 to people with 75 percent and more disabilities.
Midun, a person with a physical disability who has a UDID card, said that he got his card in 2019 and is getting a pension of Rs. 1,000 per month from the state government. “Though the amount is not much, it still helps,” he said. He said that he is pursuing Masters of Science and got admission under the reserved quota for the disabled because he had this card. He added that a lot of people don’t know about this card as there is no awareness.
Siddheshwara said, “The department advertises to spread awareness about UDID cards. We circulate brochures about what documents are required to apply for UDID cards and how the entire online process needs to be done so that people who are not very educated can also apply through the portal.”
Shivappa, a representative from The Association of People with Disability (APD) said that UDID card is like an Aadhar card or voter card for disabled people. “A person not having a card misses out on all state and centre schemes which takes away their benefits. It is sad that a lot of people don’t have these cards and the government is not being active in providing it to all of them,” he added.