The Maharashtra government has issued directions to all its departments to undertake programmes and schemes for the welfare of senior citizens that include discount in property tax and making mandatory the construction of recreational halls in housing societies and old age homes in big residential complexes. The state government had prepared a draft for a senior citizen policy in 2004, which was approved by the state cabinet in 2013. Steps were finalised for its implementation, according to the recommendation of the committee for senior citizens, whose minimum age has been revised from 65 to 60 years. “The state government would be focussing on financial planning and health concerns of senior citizens, along with preparing them to handle stress,” said government official.
“The local civic bodies should make utmost use of the experience of senior citizens in improving civic services in their respective areas while providing place for their gatherings in civic buildings, ensuring facilities so that they have easy access to civic offices, gardens and public toilets through wheelchairs and make it compulsory for the same in malls, restaurants, offices, theatres and other public places.” he said.
The official added: “The state government has directed the civic bodies to make it mandatory for cooperative housing societies to provide multipurpose centres on the premises and construct toilets in the apartments that are senior citizen friendly. It should be done while approving the construction plan for residential buildings. The civic bodies should provide additional Floor Space Index (FSI) to residential and non-residential complexes for construction of old age homes in their premises.”
The Urban Development Department should make compulsory provision of old age homes in every new township or big residential complex while approving the construction plan, he added. “The state government has also asked civic bodies to provide discounts on various taxes, like property tax in its jurisdiction on the lines of discount in income tax and public transport fares. The civic bodies should develop daycare centres for senior citizens as the responsibility of senior citizens would be of the local civic body. The civic bodies should develop their areas as senior citizen friendly and it should include developing recreational centres, free or cheap public transport services with reserved seats, gardens and public toilets,” he said.
According to the directions, the government has asked the health department to appeal to social organisations and charities to help homeless senior citizens, prepare programmes for timely diagnosis of illnesses while raising awareness about serious illnesses so that preventive care can be taken. Private hospitals have been asked to give 50 per cent discount to senior citizens and start separate check-up departments and reception counters for the elderly.