The government is set to launch a national scheme on Saturday to provide assistive devices like hearing aids and walking sticks to senior citizens living below the poverty line. The Rs 477 crore ‘Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojna’ will be launched at a camp in Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh on March 25, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said here on Thursday.
Information and Broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu will also be present at the event. Another camp will be organised on March 26 in Ujjain district of Madhya Pradesh.
The government has set a target of distributing assistive living devices among 2,000 identified beneficiaries at each camp, a senior official in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said.
“After these, camps will be organised in two districts in each state. We had written to all state governments in December last year to identify beneficiaries,” Gehlot said.
The objective of the scheme, Gehlot said, is to build an aged-friendly society by providing them with devices to maintain near normalcy in morbidity.
The assistive living devices will be of high quality and conform to the standards laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
A person should be at least 60 years’ old to avail the facilities under the scheme. Also, the beneficiary will have to be certified by competent authority as a person living below the poverty line, Gehlot said.
According to the official, the government wanted to roll out the scheme in January but had to postpone it in view of the assembly elections in five states.
The scheme aims to address disabilities like low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth and locomotor disability.
The equipment that will be distributed will include walkers, crutches, wheelchairs, tripods, spectacles, hearing aids and dentures among others.
“There are 10.38 crore senior citizens in the country as per the Census of 2011 and 5.2 per cent of them suffer from some sort of old age-related disability,” Gehlot said.
It is projected that the number of senior citizens will increase to around 17.3 crore by 2026.
Central public sector unit Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India has identified agencies for the supply of the equipment.