In state budget 2011 -12 Maharashtra Governments has once again shown its apathy towards its 100 lakh Senior Citizens. The state government has been continuously neglecting and ignoring its Senior Citizens. We strongly condemn the step motherly treatment towards Senior Citizens by Government of Maharashtra.
Joint Action Committee (JAC) & various Organizations have been constantly fighting for basic rights, various issues of Senior Citizens, and implementation of Senior Citizens Policy and Maintenance Act. JAC of Senior Citizens was formed by 23 Organisation/ Federations, Associations, NGO's working for Senior Citizens to protest against continuous neglect and ignorance by the central & state government. On 16th August 2010 JAC had successfully organized a Protest Day all over India and in state of Maharashtra. This was historic occasion where all the organization working for Elderly came under one umbrella to protest against continuous neglect by both central and state government.
On behalf of Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Organization working for/with Senior Citizens we are thankful to Government of India for addressing some of the issues Senior Citizens in Budget 2011-12. In Central Government Budget 2011-12 ; Recognitions of Senior Citizens as 60 yrs and above in taxation and (IGNOAPS) Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme ; Increase in IGNOAPS for 80+; Special Category of 80yrs + for Tax slab ; Increasing Senior Citizens Income Tax exemption limit and Increasing Rail concession to male senior citizens to 40% are some welcome move. 16th August 2010 National Protest Day by Senior Citizens has played major role in addressing this issues. It has been long fight for Senior Citizens for their right and we appreciate government of India steps to address some of the issues. But we still are unhappy as only some of our demand has been met.
We request the State Government to consider the following pending demands urgently and concede them.
1. Declaration of State Policy on Senior Citizens:
Senior Citizens Organisations had jointly presented the Draft of State Policy on Senior Citizens (Older Persons) in 2002 but the State Govt, in 2004 declared a 1 ½ page State Policy, which too remains mostly unimplemented. We again met at Yashada and resubmitted the Draft to you in 2009 but no action appears to have been taken to declare the State Policy, the Union Govt, declared the National Policy on Older Persons in 1999 and it is unfortunate that even after 11 years the State does not find time to declare its State Policy. We demand to declare it immediately.
2. Formation of State Council of Senior Citizens and Commission :
For effective promotion and coordination of the concerns of Senior Citizens the Government should form a State Council of Senior Citizens under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Social Justice with representatives from concerned Govt. Departments and representatives of prominent Senior Citizens Federation, Organizations, NGO's working for Senior Citizens (list of some of them is attached), Social Science Institutions and Media, as members. A State Commission for Senior Citizens should be established for implementation of the State Policy all over the State and also implementation of Acts like Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act and other Policy and Acts concerning the Senior Citizens.
3. Implementation of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act :
The Parliament adopted the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act in 2007 and it was expected to be implemented within one year. We appreciate the state government effort to frame the rule, but still Tribunals have to be formed and Act needs to be fully implemented. We demand the Act should be fully implemented all over the State immediately and to include Senior Citizens organisation in the Tribunals.
4. Establishment of Multi-Service Day Care Centers:
To remove loneliness, to utilize their spare time for useful social activities and for improvement in physical and mental health, Senior Citizens need Multi-Service /Disciplinary Day Care Centers in all Cities, towns, and large villages. Some Municipal Corporations like Pimpri – Chinchwad and Navi Mumbai have created such Day Care Centers and handed them over to local Senior Citizens Associations to conduct. The Govt should make provisions so that all Municipal Corporations, Municipalities and Panchayats, provide Day Care Centers and Recreation centers in all parts of the State. We also demand to make provision to start Dementia Day centers at Municipal Corporations, Municipalities and District and Taluka level.
5. Representation On Anudan Samities:
The State Govt has Schemes like Shravan Bal Yojana, Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Anudan Yojana, Indira Gandhi Niradhar Bhoomiless, Vidhawa Mahila Anudan Yojana, etc. for giving pension to poor Senior Citizens. But in many places the needy Citizens do not get the pension. We request that representative of Senior Citizens Organizations and NGO's should be included in these Anudan Samitees as an unofficial member.
6. Health Insurance For all Senior Citizens – BPL & APL:
Health Care is very vital necessity of all Senior Citizens but Health Care costs are so high that they cannot afford to have Health Insurance. We request that Rashtriya Swasthya Vima Yojana of the State should be modified to cover the middle class Senior Citizens with the BPL families and give them Health Insurance cover. The APL (Above Poverty Line) Senior Citizens would be able to pay moderate premium for such Insurance Cover.
7. Give Benefits to 60+ Seniors (Not 65+):
Central Government in Budget 2011-12 has define Senior Citizens as 60+ .The State and the gives financial benefits to them (Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension, ST bus fare concession, etc.) only at 65 years. This is unjust. Please give all facilities at 60+ and don't make them wait for five years further. Make Uniform age of 60+ to address Senior Citizens in all government schemes.
8. Improvement For Vriddhashrams:
The condition of most of Old Age Homes in the State is far from satisfactory. The Govt should appoint a Regulatory Authority for implementing and monitoring minimum norms/standards of service in all Vriddhashrams. Senior Citizens organization is prepared to fully cooperate with the Govt for improving the standard of Old Age Homes in the State.
9. Concession in Transport:
We demand 50% concession on all state and city transport buses for Senior Citizens who are 60+.
10. Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension amount has been raised by central government; we demand state govt. to increase its contribution for the same, including people staying in old age homes.
11. District and Municipal hospitals should have a special Geriatric Ward with latest facilities and PHC should provide special attention to Elderly.
12. Decent old age homes with Public-Private mode for the benefit of seniors at reasonable charges should be promoted.
13. Free Home for Destitute should be established in all districts.
14. Declaration of Comprehensive policy on Dementia and Alzheimer's
15. We demand Special attention/schemes/programmes for Rural Elderly, Tribal Elderly, Transgender Elderly , Destitute Elderly, Women Elderly and 80 + population
16. We demand all Municipal Corporation should have separate department for Senior Citizens
We also request civil society to support the Voice of our Elders for their basic rights as citizens of the Sate.
We hope the Government of Maharashtra will take due note of this demands and help Senior Citizens to have a happy evening of their life.