Senior citizens in Maharashtra get 5 years younger
State’s decision to lower eligibility from 65 to 60 years is expected to benefit about 40 lakh people; government also promises to set up a separate council for implementing the much-delayed policy for senior citizens
Here is some good news for elderly people who are aged above 60 but have some more years to reach the 65-year mark. On Tuesday, the state government declared that any person who is aged 60 years and above will be treated as a senior citizen, and will be eligible for availing the entitled benefits.
CM Devendra Fadnavis had given instructions to ministers and bureaucrats to take immediate steps towards formulating a policy for senior citizens. File pic for representation
Currently, people aged 65 years or above are certified as senior citizens by the state, whereas the Centre has 60 years as the eligibility mark. The new decision will come into effect from March 2016.
Social Justice Minister Rajkumar Badole made the announcement in the state legislative assembly on Tuesday. The minister was questioned by legislators cutting across party lines as to why the government was delaying implementation of the senior citizens’ policy, and not lowering the age mark for eligibility to 60 years on par with the Centre.
The decision is expected to benefit about 40 lakh people. According to information available, some 11 per cent of the state’s total population is aged 60 years or above. The National Policy on Older Persons of India and the United Nations’ Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), 2002, of which India is a signatory, stipulates that any person of and over 60 years of age is a senior citizen.
The debate started following a calling attention motion by opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil (Congress) and other members, which was taken up on Tuesday. BJP members Medha Kulkarni and Ashish Shelar, Congress legislators Varsha Gaikwad, Madhukar Chavan and Abdul Sattar and others raised the demand for reducing the age limit on par with the Central government’s Indira Gandhi Pension Scheme (60 years).
With the state’s decision, the people who are 60 years old will benefit from welfare schemes such as 50 per cent travel concession on state transport buses and various schemes being run by the social welfare and other departments.
Since the state senior citizens’ policy is still on paper despite being cleared by the Cabinet in 2013, Shelar wanted to know why it was not implemented yet. Badole informed the House that the policy would be implemented early next year and June 15, designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by UN, will be observed in the state every year.
Badole also assured Shelar that state would constitute a state council by next month to implement the policy. Sources said many government departments will have to allot funds from their respective outlays in the state budget that will be presented in March next year.
CM Devendra Fadnavis had given indications of implementing the policy on November 29 in Nagpur while inaugurating a new building of Sanjivan Vriddhashram (old age home) being run by an NGO Sanjivan Socio Medical Foundation. He had given instructions to the ministers and bureaucrats concerned to take immediate steps towards implementing a policy.
The chairman of Sanjivan Socio-Medical Foundation, Dr Sanjay Ugemuge, welcomed the government’s prompt move. “The decision will go a long way towards the welfare of old age people. We have increasing number of senior citizens in the state who need timely support from the government because they are either economically weak or abandoned by their families,” said Ugemuge.
For the elderly
Features of the senior citizens’ policy to be implemented from early next year
>> Public transport buses to have a low step at entrance doors
>> Availability of government-owned public spaces, halls and temples for conducting functions/programmes at no cost
>> Gerontology department at JJ Hospital in Mumbai
>> 50% concession on state transport tickets
>> Malls, restaurants, offices and movie theatres to provide wheelchairs to senior citizens
Percentage of the state’s population aged 60 years or above