The disabled who have been denied insurance cover by companies all these years stand to get insurance as a right once the scheme is in place this year. The source of the funding of the insurance scheme is also unique.
It is to be funded through a Rs 2400 crore (Rs 24 billion) corpus that has accrued to the Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment from public sector banks.
These banks, which had made a profit while rounding off their accounts, had been asked by the Supreme Court to spend the money for public good specifically for the disabled after a PIL three years ago.
The ministry, which has started receiving the money, plans to implement the insurance scheme in this financial year using the funds.
Interest from this corpus would be used for various disability welfare schemes and the insurance scheme will benefit from this fund, officials said.
The National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental retardation and Multiple disabilities and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities are working out the social security cum insurance cover with various insurance companies.
A three-member team of experts, including Pradeep Ghosh of the NGO Oasis Bhopal, Dr T V Ramesh of Insurance brokering firm Alegion in Chennai, and Shyamala, director of Adi (formely Spastic Society of Northern India, has been working on the insurance scheme with the actuaries of insurance companies for the last four months.
Pradeep Ghosh, one of the experts working out details of the insurance scheme with actuaries, said it was likely to be implemented on a pilot basis in one or two districts to begin with and would be spread out to the rest of the country in phases. Ghosh added that it was a big achievement for the disabled as they had been denied insurance cover by all companies so far.
Ghosh himself an Ashoka social entrepreneur who was formerly with the IT sector said the insurance companies came forward for a Governemnt-supported insurance scheme after disability activists and lawyer Colin Gonsalvez threatened last year to move the court on the denial of insurance cover to disabled.
Poonam Natarajan Chairperson of the National Trust said that the scheme was being processed and she would not be in a position to give details now.
However sources said that the insurance cover would later incorporate products like endowment policies which would provide pensions to the disabled.
The two national agencies on disability would be sending a proposal of demands to the insurance companies and the scheme is likely to be implemented in this financial year, sources said.