Senior citizens to appeal Centre for NPOP implementation

Senior citizens to appeal Centre for NPOP implementation

"Not a single state or Union Territory (UT) has adopted the NPOP document even after 11 years of its promulgation by the Central Government, let alone its implementation," a panel on issues of senior citizens said here yesterday in a discussion at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

On National Protest Day - August 16, an appeal will be made by panelists along with nearly 10 crore older persons (60 years and above) of the country, majority of whom are indigent, underfed, insecure and unorganised, demanding the Centre's immediate attention and action on NPOP, they said.

The members said the NPOP has been grossly neglected by the state and Central government while the bureaucratic system has been tardy leading to its non-implementation.

The panel included TISS director S Parasuram,  A Kinjawdekar, President, AISSCON (All India Senior Citizens Confederation, D N Chapke, Secretary General AISCCON, Vijay Aundhe, President, FESSCOM (Federation of Senior Citizen of Maharashtra) and Professor Siva Raju, Chairperson, Centre for Development Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

"The intention of the Centre in formulating schemes and policies for older persons was to relieve them from clutches of hunger, disease, poverty, neglect and insecurity which was translated into action by formulating the NPOP-1999, enacting the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act (MWPSCA) and announcing a scheme like Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) 2007," they informed.

"The core problem is, the implementation of the NPOP, MWPSCA, IGNOAPS. The Centre has passed the responsibility to state governments, who have largely ignored the issue by declaring lack of resources. The situation is no better for schemes where the Centre has allocated partial resources," the panelists said.

Though mandated in the NPOP no health security has been provided by most states or Union Territories. In absence of state subsidised health insurance, if a senior citizen falls ill, quality health care is unaffordable, they said.

"Today unaffordable health care costs are major contributor to poverty in our country as every year 2.1 per cent population is pushed below poverty line due to unaffordable health care costs," Prof Siva Raju observed.

The states and UTs have not operationalised the MWPSCA even after its enactment three years ago. If this Act is implemented it will give protection to the most vulnerable sections of senior citizens who are at risk of abandonment from their own family, Parasuram said.

About 17 states are paying much less than the minimum old age pension of Rs 400 recommended as per the IGNOAPS. This provision is intended to provide monetary support to senior citizens who are Below Poverty Line, Raju said.

The AISSCON & FESSCOM  have over the years been lobbying with the Governments to highlight the non-implementation of provisions of the various Acts and Schemes. With no response forthcoming, it has been decided to observe a protest day on August 16, Kinjawdekar said.

The protest is supported by 27 national, state and local level organisations, NGOs, associations of Banks/Insurance companies and retired employees.

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