Govt plans panel for elderly
New Delhi, July 4: The government will constitute a National Commission for the Elderly with some powers similar to that of a court in a move that is part of efforts to give teeth to the National Elderly Policy.
"The commission will be a one-stop arrangement capable of addressing all issues related to the elderly. Once it is in place, the elderly will not have to knock on several doors,'' said an official of the social justice ministry, which is piloting the initiative.
The commission will be part of the 1999 National Policy for Old Persons, now being reviewed. It will be a statutory body — like the women's commission — with the authority to summon individuals, and will have state-level units. It will also offer training to sensitise police to the elderly.
The Centre has set up a committee to review the policy on old persons, with former National Women's Commission chief Mohini Giri as its chairperson. The panel has been asked to propose amendments in the light of new demographic and socio-economic trends.
The committee will also review the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, which makes it mandatory for children to look after their parents.
"The act was a little unrealistic in the Indian scenario as it is rare for an Indian parent to file complaints against their offspring. What is required are measures to prevent the elderly from becoming penniless,'' said a member of the committee.
Besides the quasi-judicial commission, there is a proposal to have at least one officer in every police station exclusively to handle complaints by the elderly and to sensitise the entire force to such issues, the ministry official said.
The committee will also ask state governments to take steps for quick disposal of property-transfer and property-tax cases involving the elderly. Such matters are settled after years, many after the senior citizens have died in penury.
Measures are also planned to ensure better healthcare. The suggestions being thought of include geriatric wards in every medical college, geriatric specialist in every district hospital and a health assistant in every panchayat.
The 2001 census put the number of senior citizens (60 and above) at 7.9 crore, or 7.5 per cent of the population. The National Commission on Population has said senior citizens will comprise 8.3 per cent of the population by 2011, 9.3 per cent by 2016, 10.7 per cent by 2021 and 12.4 per cent by 2026.