NEW DELHI: Healthy and happy old age of our senior citizens can only be realised when all the state governments at the earliest notify the Act formulated for the the senior citizens of the country, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Meira Kumar on Tuesday said.
Out of 28 States and seven union territories in the country, according to the ministry, only 10 States and national capital territory of Delhi so far have notified the Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act since it came into effect from December 31 last year.
Apart from Delhi, states having notified the Act so far are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Rajasthan and Tripura.
Addressing a meeting of National Council of Older Persons (NCOP) here, the minister underlined that safeguarding the rights of elderly is an issue of paramount concern today for all.
"Healthy and happy old age of our senior citizens can only be realised when all the State Governments notify the Act, formulated rules and frame their state policies for older persons at the earliest," she stressed.
Since most of the provisions of the Act are to be implemented by the States, minister added, they are given the authority to decide to adopt the Act and the powers to frame rules.
Despite legally providing for maintenance by lineal descendants, Kumar pointed out, the need for old age homes will continue to exist for the care and protection of the destitute elderly.
The Act seeks setting up of old age homes by the State Governments in a phased manner, she said.
Minister also pointed out that the Act requires the state governments to prescribe a comprehensive plan for providing protection of life and property of senior citizens.
"An increasing number of older persons, who are economicaly self sufficient, are living alone voluntarily or in voluntarily. These people are generally becoming soft targets of anti-social elements. There is obviously a need to ensure that they are provided with a suitable mechanism for protection of their lives and property," she said.
"In order to ensure that the parents and senior citizens are benefitted by the Act at the earliest, I am personally folloing up the issue with all the chief ministers."
"As a result, 11 States have already notified the Act and some States are in the process of framing appropriate rules for this Act," the minister added.
Modernity accompanied with industrialisation, modern education, occupational differentiation and growth of rampant individualism are fast eroding the tradititional values that vested authority and ensured dignified ageing, she said urging
individuals, families and society at large to carry forward the mission of providing a secured life for the senior citizens.
"The amount of grant being given to NGOs for supporting old age homes, day care centres and mobile medicare units has almost been doubled under the Integrated Programme for Older Persons while a number of innovative projects have also been
included in the scheme," minister said adding "let us help those elderly who are less fortunate and do not have family or adequate resources."