Aadhaar a double whammy for the disabled

Disability prevents enrolment; welfare benefits denied


For several months now, M. Dayalan, a resident of Tiruvallur district who is visually impaired, has not been receiving his monthly disability pension. When he inquired, he was told it was because he did not have an Aadhaar card and his bank account was not linked. But not for lack of trying — Mr. Dayalan said he has attempted to get his Aadhaar at least twice, but has been rejected.

“My family and I are struggling without the pension,” said the 36-year-old.

Disability rights activists P. Simmachandran and S. Nambu Rajan said that a number of persons with disabilities are losing out on welfare schemes due to not being able to get an Aadhaar card — and it’s not just the pension, some cannot enrol in the MGNREGA scheme for employment too. Even though there is a provision in the Aadhaar framework to use just one biometric for those with disabilities — either the iris or the fingerprints — many centres and operators are either not aware or have no training to be able to do this, said Smitha Sadasivan, member, Disability Rights Alliance, who has also been petitioning for cards without both biometrics for those with certain disabilities. In many cases the applicants get an acknowledgement but are rejected at the main server level during authentication, she said.

A 50-year-old man, whose right hand is amputated, has not been able to get an Aadhaar card. He said he does not claim the disability pension but is having problems with his bank account that has to be linked with Aadhaar. “I tried to get a card and even got an acknowledgement but was then told my application was rejected as they need 10 fingerprints,” he said.

Those with leprosy too are having difficulties, said Victor Paul, who runs a service and support organisation. A 30-year-old woman with an 80% disability from a village near Palani has had her Aadhaar card for nine months now, but is still not receiving her pension. It was stopped last year, as she had not been able to travel to the nearest centre to obtain her Aadhaar, said an activist. For some with mental illnesses, getting Aadhaar cards is difficult and a few have lost out on pensions, said Kotteswara Rao, senior coordinator with the Schizophrenia Research Foundation. Activists say that there should be doorstep Aadhaar enrolment as well as special camps for those with disabilities to get their Aadhaar cards now that all social security schemes have been linked with it.

State Commissioner for Differently Abled V. Arun Roy said that he would bring this issue to the attention of UIDAI and ask them to come forward with a solution which would be implemented.