To Date: 23-5-11.
Shri Sachin Ahir, Hon State Minister of Housing & Social Justice-Welfare of Senior Citizens,
Government of Maharashtra, Mantralaya, Mumbai- 400032.
Sub: Welfare of Senior Citizens of Mumbai & Maharashtra.
We, the Senior Citizens of Mumbai & Maharashtra, are very happy to observe that you are taking lot of interest & pains to work for welfare of your Elders. We would be obliged, if you kindly get the instructions/GRs etc, as necessary issued on the following long neglected subjects without waiting for finalization/acceptance/notification of State Policy for Senior Citizens, as 12 years have passed in waiting for Policy and the instructions on these subjects do not require notification of Policy by State. Maharashtra State Policy for Older Persons, 2004-Part-1 authorises and expects the State to issue orders on these subjects.
1. Celebrating International Day of Older Persons (IDOP): It is observed that this Day is neither observed by State nor by Panchayati Raj & Municipal Bodies in Maharashtra inspite of repeated instructions from Nodal Ministry every year. It has been advised by Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, New Delhi in reply to my recent Application under RTI that this year also, they had issued instructions under their directive under no. 15-39 (12)/09-10/AGII dt 3-9-10 that these programmes should be organized with active involvement of Sr citizens, Panchayati Raj & Municipal Bodies etc. On enquiries from BMC & MBMC, it is given to understand that they are having no specific instructions from your side. Kindly issue proper detailed instructions to all concerned including all your departments and local bodies to celebrate this International Day to respect Elders of Maharashtra without waiting for notification of State Policy and instructions may be repeated every year sufficiently advance. Similar instructions for celebrating ``World Awareness Day of Abuse of Older Persons`` on 15th June may also be issued. These celebrations will create proper atmosphere of Respect for Elders in the Society.
2. Vayoshestha Sanmans: Nodal Ministry has given a list of 10 Sanmans given by them every year, which they give in celebration of IDOP. Our State should also give similar Sanmans at State/District/Panchayat-Municipal levels.
3. Integrated Programmes for Older Persons (IPOP)- Revised Scheme effective from 1-4-2008: Nodal Ministry has advised that as against National Allocation to Maharashtra for this purpose in year 2008-09 of Rs 150 lakhs, only Rs 49.92 and against NA for 2009-10 of Rs 75 lakhs, only Rs 47.07 were released as per State Demand. Para 6 of the Revised Scheme has made Panchayati Raj Institutions & Local Bodies as main implementing Agencies. No instructions having been issued to these agencies, BMC & MBMT are refusing to take action and insist on State Instructions. Kindly make out a time bound programme for each Panchayat & Municipal Units to provide these schemes in each ward within a year or two, as 90% of recurring & non-recurring expenditure will be borne by Nodal Ministry. Planning Commission has been requested to provide sufficient funds for these very useful schemes.
4. Involve Panchayati Raj Institutions & Municipalities For Welfare of Senior Citizens: Panchayati Raj Institutions (and Local Bodies) are to be encouraged to initiate & participate in all schemes of Welfare of Elders, address local level issues & needs of the ageing population and implement programmes for them. They will provide Forums for discussing concerns of Older Persons & Activities that need to be taken. Such Forums will be encouraged at Panchayat, Municipal, Block & District level. They will have adequate representation of older women. Panchayat will mobilize the talents & skills of older persons & draw up plans for utilizing these at local level. Kindly issue necessary instructions to all Local Bodies and monitor the progress, as this will lead to real welfare of Elders of Maharashtra.
5. Instructions to our Media, Trusts, Charitable Hospitals/State & Municipal Hospitals , NGOs , Civic Authorities etc: Kindly issue necessary instructions to all Stake Holders in Maharashtra for looking after the welfare of Elders, so that they start doing their work, which may lead to our Elders leading dignified life during their last spell of life. Arrangements may please be made to obtain details of all Registered Associations/Organizations working for senior Citizens, if necessary, from Charity Commissioner or as available in Karmayog & other Web Sites or by inviting information from organizations and issue instructions to all Departments to endorse copy of all circulars/instructions affecting elders to Federations/State level Organizations. Similar list should be available with each Panchayat/ Municipality & each Ward Officer for their jurisdiction. State & Local Bodies should call for Meetings, Seminars etc for inter action with elders periodically.
Just as Director (Ageing) is working as Nodal Officer in Ministry of S.J. & E. at Centre, a Nodal Officer at State level may be nominated to deal with all representations/matters pertaining to Senior Citizens.
6. Annual Report of work done in the State for its Elders: At present any good work done for Elders by State is not known to large number of Senior Citizens. An annual report for all work done for Elders in the State should be prepared and brought out in Media on every International Day for Older Persons. This will not only monitor various actions by all authorities but boost morale of Elders of Maharashtra.
(All these 6 items were represented to Principal Secretary vide my letter dt 30-12-10 followed by reminders but no action is taken even after 5 months!).
- Transport Concessions to Senior Citizens: As per Memorandum issued by Home Department under no. kra.STC-1998/667/pra.ka.36/pari.1 dt 25-10-2000, 50% concession in fares for travelling in MSRTC buses is given to all Senior Citizens of 65 years and above. It is experienced by Senior Citizens of Maharashtra as well as other States coming to Maharashtra that Conductors insist on production of Identity Card issued by State of Maharashtra and do not accept other Identity Cards issued by other States or Central Government Departments, PAN cards, Passports etc. Any photo-identity card issued by any Public Authority including local authorities should be sufficient to get this concession. We shall be grateful, if proper instructions with liberal provisions are got issued very early. We would also request you to consider earmarking of more seats in ST buses for Senior Citizens, as recently done by BEST and to give free or 90% concession to female Senior Citizens, especially widows and above 80 years. Present age limit of 65 for this concession may also be reduced to 60, as accepted by Finance Ministry for Tax Exemption from 1-4-11, as all Senior Citizens deserve similar treatment in view of less income after retirement. General Managers of Local Suburban Railway trains should be approached by State and made to realize the need for separate coach for Senior Citizens, as they are more handicapped than medically certified handicaps and Ladies. Some seats in First Class Coaches should be got reserved.
- Medical Treatment in Municipal Hospitals in Mumbai: As per State GR no. 2006/navi-20 dt 12-12-06, free treatment is to be given to all Senior Citizens in all Municipal Hospitals. All Hospitals, except 3 major Hospitals of Nair, KEM & Sion have given in writing that they are giving free treatment to all Senior Citizens. These 3 major Hospitals are defying the State Orders for last 5 years and do not give free treatment to Senior Citizens. You may kindly use your good offices and help your Elders.
- Free Movement of Rickshaws in entire MMRDA Area: As per Notification in Extraordinary State Gazette dt 25-2-08, all Rickshaws & taxies were allowed to ply in entire MMRDA area but these orders are not yet implemented even after 3 years for rickshaws, resulting in Senior Citizens and all citizens have to walk with luggage/heavy school bags at all check nakas for change over from one side Rickshaws to other side Rickshaws. In Mira Road- Bhayander Area, Rickshaws are not running on meters and they charge exorbitant rates for even short distance e.g. from Checknaka to Shrusti area- distance of less than 1.6 km, Rs 40 is charged. Kindly, use your good offices and get these genuine grievances solved.
- Maintenance & Welfare of parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2010: In the recently notified Maintenance & Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act in extraordinary Gazette dt 23-6-10, important provisions of the Central Act, 2007 in respect of Medical Support for Senior Citizens (Section 20) and Transfer of property to be void in certain circumstances (Section 23) are omitted. These are very important provisions for Senior Citizens and may kindly be got added.
- Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension: Out of more than 9 lakh Senior Citizens in Maharashtra, there are 3.33 lakhs BPL Senior Citizens but beneficiaries for Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension, Shravan bal Seva Rajya Nivruti Vetan Yojna: and Rashtriya Bima Yojna are very much less, especially in Urban Areas, due to proper action not being taken by Revenue Department to classify them as BPL or registering them under Sravanbal Yojna. Kindly get some instructions issued to Tehsildars, Municipal Authorities etc and concerned officers to get this done early and properly.(Items 7 to 11 were represented to Home Minister by name under my letter dt 22-8-10 followed by several reminders but no action is taken even after 9 months!).
12. Web Site for Senior Citizens: There is a necessity of separate Web Site for Senior Citizens of Maharashtra, as present State Web Site is cumbersome and difficult to get information easily.
As regards State Policy, it is understood that you are discussing with representatives of Senior Citizens, which had given draft to the State before some years and likely to notify by 15-8-11. As 15-8-11 is quite away, you may like to notify the draft on State Web Site for views of prominent expert citizens and interested Senior Citizens and their Organizations by giving a period of 20-30 days. As Review Committee has handed over their recommendations to Minister on 30-3-11 and draft is available on Help Age Web Site, those recommendations may also be kept in view.
We shall be thankful, if instructions/GRs etc, as necessary for above items are issued very early without waiting for notification of State Policy.