Ahead of the Assembly elections next year, the Samajwadi Party government has decided to launch a social security scheme covering citizens above 60 years of age both in urban and rural areas.
Under the scheme, which is modelled along the lines of those prevalent in foreign countries, the state government, in its own words, will “take care” of senior citizens – by setting up old age homes and providing them all basic facilities free of cost.
For the scheme, the government will issue a card to these citizens, through which benefits will be rolled out.
“It is the first time in the state that all citizens above 60 years of age will be taken care of by the government. The scheme is on the lines of social security cover available in foreign countries,” Ramgovind Choudhary, state’s social welfare minister, told The Indian Express.
Choudhary said the government felt the need to launch such a scheme because people in old age are mostly alone and often become victims of crime and neglect, even as the minister admitted to “a rise” in incidents of crime involving senior citizens. In order to curb this, a scheme that provides all-round security to them – from lodging, transportation, movement to medical care, food and protection – becomes a “necessity”.
“The government will set up old age homes in every district and accommodate senior citizens who have nowhere to go,” Choudhary said, and added that plans are also afoot to develop community halls, park and other recreational facilities for them.
“We will tie up with various government departments. Health department will be roped in for medical facility, transport department will provide free conveyance and local police will ensure their safety. A special senior citizen policy will be implemented for this purpose. The scheme has been finalised and will be sent to the state cabinet for approval,” he said.
Choudhary explained that “not all senior citizens are poor”. “Some live in their houses and can sustain themselves. But they are alone and need social security. The state government will step in to provide them security and take care of their other social needs,” he said.
The social welfare department will soon start approaching senior citizens to complete the formalities of issuing the card.