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July 8, 2004

'Now, I will be able to get my hearing aid'

From: Indian Express, India - Jul 8, 2004

Kamran Sulaimani

Ahmedabad, July 8: CHIDAMBARAM'S pro-poor theme song may have left many unmoved but for 21-year-old Vinod Rawal, who has a hearing disablity, it was a reason to rejoice. ''I will now be able to get the cochlear implant that I had been waiting for,'' said Vinod, explaining that the 5 per cent custom duty and additional duties of about 15 per cent had put the hearing aid out of his reach. Now with no duty, Vinod's hearing aid will cost him considerably less.

''Exemptions announced in the budget prove that the government is serious about addressing problems faced by the physically challenged,'' said Blind People's Association director Dr Bhushan Punani.

The Finance Minister announced full exemption on Customs duty for equipment used by the visually challenged like Braille typewriters, Braille computers and talking books. ''This is a very important decision. We have to purchase equipment from abroad and this becomes even more expensive because of the Customs duty,'' said Dr Punani.

Like Vinod, other students too welcomed the budget. Sanjay Chauhan, who is visually impaired, said, ''I heard the budget speech though I could not see it. But I am very happy as he has proposed many exemptions for us.'' Though happy about the exemptions, Jayesh Patel felt that emphasis needs to shift on better education for the blind.

Another move Punani is happy about is the FM's decision to identify the three disabilities. Said Punani, ''Autism, cerebral palsy and persons with multi-disability are included in Section 80 DD.''

Earlier, no exemptions were available for these categories, explained Punani, ''According to the new budget, they are now eligible for tax exemption upto Rs 45,000 like people with other disabilities.''

© 2004: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world.