Hundreds of elderly poor, who had assembled in Jantar Mantar in Delhi’s biting cold, have turned their hopeful eyes toward the new Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, to draw his attention to the plight 14 lakh elderly poor in Delhi.
In a letter written to Kejriwal, the Pension Parishad, led by Baba Adhav, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey among others, while congratulating Kejriwal, sought universalisation of pension in Delhi. They said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan had acknowledged that pensions did not feature in AAP’s election manifesto and had assured people at the dharna that if AAP came to power, it would ensure that the issue of pensions for the elderly was given utmost priority.
The Delhi Government supplements the sum of Rs 200 provided National Social Assistance Programme to provide a total monthly pension of Rs 1,000 to those over 60 years. Those from the Scheduled Castes and Tribes and those above 70 years get a monthly pension of Rs1,500.
Also, only 34 per cent of the elderly population is covered under the scheme. “If the Delhi government was to universalise old age pensions, the total cost to the exchequer would only be about Rs 1,700 crore per annum at present rates,” they said.
Also, in Delhi, applications for pension were being approved not by the administration using fixed criteria, but by legislators. “Pensions are granted and stopped arbitrarily, without prior intimation. This system of patronage needs to be terminated immediately,’ says the letter.