3.5 Cr Elderly Poor Are Being Given Pension Of Mere Rs 200 For Last 12 Yrs
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3.5 Cr Elderly Poor Are Being Given Pension Of Mere Rs 200 For Last 12 Yrs

A heartwarming picture of an old woman sharing a meal with the district collector of Karur, Tamil Nadu has gone viral. The official in question is Mr T Anbazhagan. As per The Hindu report, in April, 80-year-old Rengammal was in for a surprise when Anbazhagan visited her house in Chinnamanaikkenpatti with a home-cooked meal. Rengammal and Raman are a poor octogenarian couple who live alone in a shanty house. Learning that the couple were not receiving their pension, he summoned the revenue officer and ordered that all their pending pension applications be cleared right away.

A Rs 1,000 pension was ordered for Rengammal, while efforts were also being made to pay pension to her husband. The collector also said, “The district administration will take steps to cover all such persons under the scheme”, New Indian Express reported.

Rengammal was lucky that her plight was noticed and that she was sanctioned a pension of Rs 1,000. However, the same cannot be said for senior citizens living elsewhere. In fact, in the name of pension, they are being paid peanuts. It has been a pattern of sorts where the elderly in the country have been constantly neglected. Under the Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS), which is the country’s biggest pension scheme, a meagre Rs 200 per month for each person is paid. This scheme is administered by the Ministry of Rural Development under the National Social Assistance Program (NSAP). Although there 10.3 crore elderly people in India who require pension, IGNOAPS covers just 3.5 crore of them.

Persons living below the poverty line and above the age of 60 are covered by IGNOAPS. Under this scheme, beneficiaries in the age bracket 60-79 receive a monthly pension of Rs 300 of which Rs 200 would be paid by the central government while the remaining Rs 100 (upto to Rs 2,000) is to be paid by the state government (variable). Those above 80 years of age receive an amount of Rs 500.

The budgetary allocation for IGNOAPS under Union Budget 2018-19 is Rs 6564.6 crore, which is just 0.16% higher than 2017-18.

Source Cbgaindia

Although there has been a small increase, coverage still remains a challenge. Despite the increase in the budgetary allocation, there is an urgent need to improve the scheme coverage and an increase in the amount of Rs 200 paid by the central government.

Another pension scheme, Atal Pension Yojana (APY) under the aegis of the Ministry of Finance is targeted at the unorganised sector. Under the budgetary allocation, APY has faced a cut from Rs 170 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 155 crore for 2018-19. Other schemes like Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana and interest subsidy to the Life Insurance Corporation for the Pension Plan for Senior Citizens have faced cuts too.

“The fact that the meagre pension has remained stuck at such a low level, despite demands being raised time and again to raise it, is a glaring indication of how little the government really cares for the most needy senior citizens”, said Nikhil Dey, social activist and coordinator of Pension Parishad, as reported by The Wire.

In December last year, Pension Parishad had written to Prime Minister Modi, asking him to make sure that monthly universal non-contributory old age pension is at least 50% of the minimum wage of the state concerned. The letter said, “We have been acutely distressed at the complete neglect of the government and the low priority accorded to the social security pension schemes in successive governments. The Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) has remained at a meagre Rs 200 per month since 2006. Over the past ten years, this has depreciated in value by 50 per cent and it now amounts to less than a day’s minimum wage in most parts of India”, as reported by The Telegraph.

The Logical Indian take

The fact that pension under the country’s largest pension scheme IGNOAPS has remained stagnant at just Rs 200 from 2006 is extremely dismal. To add to the woes, poor coverage, low allocation, budget cuts and the issue of Aadhaar linking has made it extremely difficult for the elderly persons to avail the benefit. Amount of mere Rs 200 per month is definitely low by all standards. It is the government’s responsibility that this amount is increased. Also, it should be made sure that the scheme reaches all those eligible and the process of obtaining it is made hassle-free.

The Logical Indian hopes that the concerned authorities take note of it.

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