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Problems of the elderly: It’s time for the government to wake up

Thursday, 4 October 2012 - 1:40pm IST | Agency: DNA
Various organisations are demanding that Maharashtra should have its own senior citizens’ policy for over 1.25 crore elderly in the state.

Various organisations are demanding that Maharashtra should have its own senior citizens’ policy for over 1.25 crore elderly in the state. Some of their key demands include bringing down the senior citizens’ age from 65 to 60, provide free medical care and increase the pension. While chief minister Prithviraj Chavan recently announced that the state would release a comprehensive policy for senior citizens by Diwali, many feel that politicians tend to ignore their needs. DNA gets you opinions ...

Provide free medical care
The state should adopt a separate senior citizens’ policy. This is because our population is increasing every year and at present, the number of senior citizens is more than 25% of the total population of India. The government and the politicians have to listen to our demands because we are their vote bank and 25% is not a number that can be ignored.

The government should extend more concessions and help towards the senior citizens. Our demands are not unreasonable, we just want to lead a normal life like others.

Our basic demand is that we must get free medical support from the government. We are pensioners and cannot afford costly medical bills. As the aged population, we are vulnerable to various diseases and the need for medical attention constantly arises. The government must incorporate a separate policy for our welfare and providing free medical care should be the top priority. Secondly, our pensions also need to be increased. Also, we need easy access to facilities like libraries, open grounds and meeting places among others.
Ajit Singh Pall, Chairman, Senior Citizen’s Forum

Every CM just makes promises
I am above 80 and for the last three decades, I have been working for the cause of the senior citizens and demanding a policy for us. A senior citizens’ policy is very important as on the basis of it, the government can plan out its action and accordingly make provisions.

Under the pressure of senior citizens and from the United Nations Organisation, India in 1999 passed the National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP). It was a good policy but unfortunately it was never implemented at the state-level.

The central government cannot work on a micro level and had given directions to all the states to make their own policy based on the central guidelines. However, Maharashtra has not acted on those guidelines because considering the needs of senior citizens is the last priority of these politicians. Since the central policy was passed in 1999, every chief minister that came to power in the state only made promises but never acted on bringing out the policy. Let us hope that the present CM does the needful and won’t disappoint us.
Ramanbhai Shah, former President, All India Senior Citizens’ Forum

Make public places senior-friendly
The International Longevity Centre (ILC) had drafted a copy of senior citizens’ demands for the state to incorporate into its policy. Our draft calls for setting some legal standards, which should become an integral part of the government mechanism.

A separate policy for senior citizens is required as the needs and demands of the aged population are different. Our demands also include that the public places should be made senior citizen-friendly and also provide medical care cover. As a matter of concern, we must also see that the policy is comprehensive enough to cover senior citizens from rural, semi-rural areas and 3-tier cities. We have to make efforts to make experienced senior citizens an integral part of various development processes.
Arun Nigavekar, Vice President, International Longevity Centre (ILC)

Medical insurance is denied to elderly
Of the 11 crore population of Maharashtra, over 1 crore, which is 10% of the population, are senior citizens. For the last 15 years, we have been regularly sending a letter of memorandum asking the Maharashtra government to adopt a separate senior citizens’ policy, but till now, no action has been taken. In 1999, the central government had passed a Senior Citizen Act and notified the states to bring in force their own policy based on the Act. Our main demand is that the state should bring down the age limit of senior citizens from the present 65 years and above to 60 years and above as per the central Act.

On October 1, every year, which is observed as International Senior Citizens’ Day all over the world, we have been organising protest gatherings to make the state government realise our demands. When state chief minister (CM) Prithviraj Chavan recently visited the city, we had expressed our demand for a separate senior citizens’ policy, which is still pending. The CM has promised cabinet decision on the policy before Diwali this year. We hope he keeps his words.

Also, senior citizens don’t fall in the purview of medical insurance. The state government must make a provision wherein on an annual payment of Rs1,000 premium, senior citizens should get a cover of Rs1 lakh.

As per the state government’s 2003 GR (government resolution), every Zilla Parishad, Municipal Corporation and primary healthcare centres must provide free medical care to senior citizens but this policy just exists on paper.
Arun Rode, President, Federation of the Senior Citizens Organisation of Maharashtra

Bring down the age from 65 to 60
The central government has passed a Senior Citizen Act, which has been brought in force by 7 union territories and 23 states of India. Maharashtra has, however, just created a draft and not yet passed an Act. In Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad areas alone, there are over 1.5 crore senior citizens over 60 years of age. As per the central government’s Act, those who are 60 years and above are to be considered senior citizens, whereas Maharashtra still identifies those who are 65 and above as senior citizens. The state has to come up with a separate senior citizens’ policy. Healthcare facility and transportation concessions must be extended to the elderly and a separate department to address their needs must be formed.
Girish Bapat, MLA, BJP


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