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Parliament should approve revised national policy on elderly: SC

NEW DELHI, Jan 22:
Parliament should approve the national policy on welfare of elderly person in view of a “grey tsunami” which is likely to overtake the nation, an NGO has told the Supreme Court.
The report on policies for elderly and suggestions was filed before a bench of Justices M B Lokur and P C Pant which took it on record and asked the Centre to go through it.
The NGO HelpAge India has been made amicus curiae by the apex court in a PIL filed by former law minister and senior advocate Ashwini Kumar seeking implementation of welfare schemes for the elderly.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on February 27.
The NGO in its report has said that according to the Census of India in 2011, the number of elderly people was 103 million and that it was 108 million in 2015.
Quoting a report of the Ministry of Statistics, the NGO said that the percentage of citizens over the age of 60 has jumped 35.5 per cent — from 7.6 crore in 2001 to 10.3 crore in 2011.
“There is a strong demand to revise and modify the National Policy of Older Persons, 1999. The central government had set up a committee under the chairmanship of V Mohini Giri which had formulated a draft National Policy on Senior Citizens on March 30, 2011. However, despite the passage of 5 years, the said national Policy has not been finalised and no development in this area has taken place.
“It is imperative that Parliament approves the revised policy in view of the grey tsunami which is likely to overtake us,” the report said, adding that the present National Policy of Older Persons of 1999 remains largely unimplemented and it has been able to cover only 19.6 million people while bulk of the poor older persons was still left out.
Flagging non-usage of funds despite budget allocation, the report filed by Mathew Cherian, CEO of HelpAge India, said that provisions under Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 says that old age home will be built in every district, but till date not a single such home has been built.
The amicus report said that the National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly (NPCHE,) launched in 2008 for providing dedicated health care facilities to senior citizens, was to cover 100 poorest districts by 2013, but the coverage is only partial in 100 districts out of the total 622 districts in the country.
The apex court had last year agreed to dwell on the issue of evolving acceptable solutions and schemes for the protection of rights of the elderly and to establish old age homes in every district of the country.
It had also sought the assistance of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), which provides free legal services to weak and vulnerable sections of the society.
The court had asked NALSA whether any scheme has been formulated by it for protecting the rights of the elderly people in this country and in case no such scheme has been formulated, then whether it can formulate a scheme.
The former law minister had said that there are several central laws and schemes for their welfare, but all these were either not implemented or had become defunct.
The Congress leader’s PIL has also sought establishment of full-time tribunals in every state as mandated under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 to look into applications for maintenance made by senior citizens.
Kumar has established an old people’s home at Gurdaspur in Punjab for which he sanctioned over Rs two crore out of his Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund. (PTI)

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