The Railway was saving crores of rupees every year by denying concession to senior citizens, alleged a city-based RTI activist. Before the coronavirus outbreak, more than 12 crore senior citizens were availing concessions in train fares every year.
Concession to senior citizens withdrawn during pandemic
During the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, railway passenger services had been withdrawn. On March 19, 2020, the Ministry of Railways had issued a circular, withdrawing train -ticket concessions available for various categories of people, including senior citizens, with the aim of curbing non-essential travel.
The services were later resumed gradually. However, the concession for senior citizens was not resumed. This has inconvenienced senior citizens, according to Ajay Bose, the RTI activist.
Revenue generated after forgoing concession
Revenue of Rs 1,636 crore and Rs 1,667 crore, respectively, was forgone during during 2018-19 and 2019-20 by granting concession in rail fare to senior citizens, Railway Board official Rohit Kumar said on January 10, while replying to Bose’s queries. The number of senior citizens who availed of concession during this time was 12.02 crore and 12.06 crore, respectively, he said.
Senior citizens voice their concerns
"Thousands of senior citizens who depend on their family are facing inconvenience. My daughter lives in Varanasi. Before the covid pandemic, I visited her at least twice a year, but now I hardly visit once a year," said Mr Shambhunath Sharma (75), a resident of Kalyan.
“The Railway should rethink this decision and restart senior citizen concession at least in the sleeper class,” said Ms Usha Ranai, a senior citizen living in Dombivali.
No response Railway Board spokesperson
A Railway Board spokesperson did not respond to queries sent via text messages in this regard till the time of publishing.
However, sources said that Indian Railways aims to restore the concessions in some categories of travel.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)