Mumbai: The Joint Action Committee (JAC), crusading for senior citizens’ rights in the city, has listed out its expectations from the upcoming BMC Budget. It wants old age homes, hospitals with gerontologists, officers to oversee elderly issues, Shiv Bhojan, and day care centres. The group has high hopes from the Union budget, too; their demands range from raising tax exemption limit on income to services, insurance and pension.
Demands submitted to Municipal Commissioner
A part of over 20 organisations, the JAC on Friday submitted a list of 21 demands to Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal. The letter states that while the BMC has been the first corporation in the country to come up with a policy for senior citizens, not much has moved in terms of budgetary allocation. Mr Chahal, however, did not respond to the call and text message from the Free Press Journal.
JAC coordinator Sailesh Mishra, who is also the founding president of Silver Innings Group working for senior citizens, said, “The BMC came up with a policy for senior citizens in 2013. However, the budgetary allocations are not there. Except for Nana-Nani and Dada-Dadi park, not much has happened. We want the civic body to have ward-wise allocation considering the rising senior population and changed circumstances they live in.”
Elderly comprise 10% of Maharashtra population
Citing the Union Ministry of Statistics, the JAC letter states that India’s elderly population jumped 35.5% from 2001 to 2011. In Maharashtra, the elderly comprise 10% of the state’s population, with almost 15 lakh in Mumbai alone.
JAC spokesperson Prakash Borgaonkar said, “With a fractured joint family system, there’s no one to look after senior citizens. We need day care centres and mobile clinics. Just like paediatricians, we need gerontologists in all hospitals with beds reserved for the elderly. The knowledge and experience older people hold can be used for intergenerational bonding.”
For poor senior citizens, the committee said that the authorities should offer free mid-day meals and Shiv Bhojan like Amma’s kitchen in southern states. JAC spokesperson Vijay Aundhe said they don’t need symbolic implementation. “If the BMC has officers to oversee the needs of elderly, we are there to help. There are a limited number of years ahead of senior citizens. They should get what is meant for them,” said Mr Aundhe, who is also spokesperson for the Federation for Senior Citizens Organisation, Maharashtra.
Vis-à-vis the Union budget, Mr Mishra said, “As the cost of living has gone up, we want the Central government to increase the income tax exemption limit for people over 60 years from Rs3 lakh to Rs 5lakh. Among our other demands are free or subsidised health insurance, pension of Rs3,000 to senior citizens in the economically weaker section of society, exemption from 18% GST from elder care services, budgetary provision for the National Dementia Plan and accessible health care.”
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