Economy

Unrest at unregulated retirement homes in Coimbatore

LN Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on April 07, 2019 Published on April 07, 2019

A retirement community that has come up at Idigarai in Coimbatore.(file photo)   -  THE HINDU

Coimbatore, which was once considered “the city to settle down, particularly in a retirement community home”, appears to be losing sheen.

While some senior citizens quietly made their exit after trouble started brewing in one such home – Tapovan – many others, living in retirement community homes such as Nana Nani Phase I, Dhyanaprastha Foundation and Swasthaya Retirement Home (near Pollachi), have started to voice concerns about the way such homes are being run by the promoters.

Incidentally, none of these privately-run retirement communities are registered with the District Social Welfare Office.

“We feel threatened and now regret our decision to move in here,” said the secretary of a resident welfare association of a private home.

Denied basic amenities

His anxiety was understandable as his aunt, an octogenarian, said they were denied basic amenities such as water, power, medical aid, and food for close to five days. “We went through hell. We have been residing here for the last seven years. There is no transparency in records, no LPA approval. When we sought details, the harassment started and facilities were withdrawn.”

R Narayan, a resident of another home, said everything was fine in the first few years. “Small irritants such as paying maintenance for a full year in advance, and some increase in mess charges, did not appear a big deal. But the treatment meted out to residents who voiced objection and sought transparency and accounts details left us shocked. Today, all our pleas for regularisation of such paid homes have fallen on deaf ears. We are seeking protection under the law, but not getting any relief. This is just the tip of the iceberg. A social revolution is in the offing,” he added.

A little further away, at a home near Pollachi, another person said he was unable to bear the torture of the promoter, who, he alleged, “used his clout” to get an ex-parte injunction from the Pollachi Munsif Court against the office-bearers of the residents association, on the ruse that the members had violated the terms and conditions signed at the time of purchase.

This person said he was compelled to move to a rented house as the mess charges, medical, and other essential expenses were draining his savings. “The interest income is a pittance when compared with the 230-250 per cent hike in the charges slapped on us by the promoters. The service is either pathetic or denied if we raise any objection to the levy,” he added.

Open rift

The harassment by the promoters of many such privately-run homes is now out in the open. The rift has widened over time, and residents say “it could burst any time”, if the government fails to intervene and implement the GO No 83 dated November 23, 2016.

“It is more than two years since the GO was passed. There has been absolute failure on the part of the local administration in implementing it. The matter is serious and requires urgent attention,” said R Narayan, a senior citizen, in an appeal drawing the attention of Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan to the issue.

“We were happy with the GO as it signalled a life of dignity with security for senior citizens. The Madras High Court made two observations: (1) that there should be a sincere endeavour to inspect the existing homes (by the Department of Social Welfare) to ensure that they are compliant; (2) locate unregistered homes and penalise them for non-registration. Our hopes of the GO becoming a reality have been belied. Not a single paid/private old age home has been registered with the District Social Welfare Officer,” Narayan added.

Published on April 07, 2019
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