In a proposal to benefit the state’s elderly, the Democratic Front (DF) government is mulling allocating first two storeys of all new residential buildings to them. Other concessions and benefits are also in the pipeline.
The policy, which is at the drafting stages, is awaiting the nod of three departments — transport, housing and urban development — on certain issues. Even if these ministries take more time to demonstrate their endorsement, the social justice department will place the proposal before the state cabinet for final approval, a senior DF functionary told this newspaper.
The housing and urban development departments are believed to have told social justice department that they may require some more time to make necessary changes to Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act (MR&TP) that governs building approvals and specific modifications, said sources.
The proposition with the transport department is for travel concession in state transport buses for the elderly. The state government wants to set 60 years as the lower age limit for taking advantage of these benefits. The state road transport corporation currently offers a 50 per cent concession in fare to those above 65 years of age. The corporation has argued that with the lowering of the age limit from 65 to 60 it would incur huge losses, sources said. The social justice department may compensate the amount, setting aside Rs 50 to 55 crore every year for the cause, a government official said.
Minister of state for social justice Sachin Ahir, who chaired as many as 18 meetings on the subject, said apart from special provisions in new buildings, efforts were on to set a stipulation for a senior citizen-friendly building in each layout of MHADA.
Coming of age
As per the draft of the policy:
>> A state-level committee headed by the social justice minister will take care of the rights of senior citizens.
>> Special recreation centres, day-care centres, wheel chairs to be made available in gardens.
>> Provision for lower level entry and exit points in public transport buses.
>> Special toilets at public places, special health camps at government clinics and benefits of government schemes on priority basis are some of the features of the policy.