Mumbai: Don't raise age bar for concession, senior citizens urges railways

Mumbai: Don't raise age bar for concession, senior citizens urges railways

The speculation gathered steam as previously it was decided not to bring the rail travel concession back after it was stopped during Covid.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Thursday, August 18, 2022, 11:50 PM IST
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Mumbai: Don't raise age bar for concession, senior citizens urges railways | Photo credit: Pixabay

A senior citizen group has written to the railway's ministry, requesting not to increase the cut-off age of senior citizens for travel concessions. Recently, there were reports that the government was considering increasing the cut-off age to 70 years for males and 65 years for females. The speculation gathered steam as previously it was decided not to bring the rail travel concession back after it was stopped during Covid.

The senior citizen group has said that the average life expectancy for males is less than 70 years as per 'SRS (sample registration system) Based Abridged Life Tables, 2015-19', which was recently released by the registrar general and census commissioner's office. As per the SRS report, the national average stood at 69.7 but for males, it was 68.4 while for females it was 71.1.

Prior to the pandemic, the cut-off age for the concession was 60 for men or transgender, and 58 for women. Concessions were given in all classes in the basic fare of mail and express trains; not to mention, Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Jan Shatabdi and Duronto group of trains. The concession was 40 per cent for men or transgender and 50 per cent for women. The concessions were not admissible in passenger trains.

Silver Innings Group, an NGO working for issues of senior citizens, has asked Union minister of state for railways Raosaheb Danve to reconsider the decision. “We have written to the government to reconsider the issue based on the data received through RTI and SRS report. The standing committee has said that the concessions should be restored,” said Silver Linings Group founder president Sailesh Mishra.

As per RTI's reply to Mishra, the number of senior citizens, who availed concessions in the three-year period before the pandemic, is 11.11 crore in 2017-18, 12.02 crore in 2018-19 and 12.07 crore in 2019-20. In the same period, the revenue missed due to concessions stood at Rs 1,492 crore for 2017-18, Rs 1,636 crore for 2018-19 and Rs 1,667 crore for 2019-20.

Asserting that the decision to stop concession during the pandemic was reasonable as the railways were financially-hit, Mishra reasoned, “But, now things have opened up and trains have been restored to their original schedule. It is a huge loss for senior citizens in urban and rural areas as railways are the fastest and cheapest mode of transport for them.” If public employees and elected representatives can get relief in their travel, why should senior citizens not get any relief? Earlier, the age difference was five to seven years between husband and wife. If a male will not be able to travel, how will a female go? Because the cut-off excludes most males as per their age, people in rural areas will suffer more, Mishra underscored.

Sailesh Mishra from NGO working for the elderly said, "We have written to the government to reconsider the issue based on the data. If public employees and elected representatives can get relief in their travel, why should senior citizens not get any relief?

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