Around four crore senior citizens in India have been forced to pay full fare for their rail journey since March 2020, according to an RTI query's reply. Since the onset of COVID-19, the government suspended the rail services, discontinuing travel concessions for the elderly. The latter is yet to be resumed while rail services restarted recently.
The query was filed by a Madhya Pradesh man named Chandra Shekhar Gaur. Over 37 lakh senior citizens travelled between March 22, 2020, and September 2021. The minimum age for women eligibility is 58, whereas, for men, it is 60. The former is entitled to 50% of the concession and the latter to 40%
Increasing Demand To Restore Concession
In recent years, the government made the 'Give it Up' scheme that included senior citizen concessions. Under it, they have an option to give up their privileges, either partially or fully. With the Covid caseload decreasing around the country, the demand for restoring concessions has increased over the past few months. Madurai member of parliament (MP), Su Venkatesan, wrote to the Union Ministry, asking them to return.
Tapas Bhattacharya, a retired private sector employee, told the Hindustan Times, "Those who can have given up their concessions also. With regular train services running, at least the senior citizen concessions should be restored. Most elderly cannot afford to pay the full fees."
With the 'Give it Up' scheme to make the country self-sufficient, it has not been successful. According to a report produced by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in 2019, few availed the services. Out of a total of 4.41 crore senior citizens, only 1.7% (7.53 lakhs) gave up the 50% concession, and 2.47% (10.9 lakhs) gave up 100% concession. As of now, the decision is yet to be taken on the same. However, keeping the senior population in mind, the government has to develop provisions to make their lives easier in this regard.