30 Sep : Senior citizens are a treasure to our society. They have worked hard throughout their lives for the development of the State, nation and the community. They possess a vast experience in different walks of life and the youth can gain from their experience in taking the nation to greater heights.
Haryana Government firmly believes that older persons are a resource and not just consumers of goods and services. They render useful services for the family and the community. Opportunities and facilities need to be provided to them so that they continue to contribute more effectively to the family and society.
While recognising the service rendered by our senior citizens to the society, the Haryana Government has implemented a number of schemes for their welfare and protection in the twilight years of their lives. The State Government has ensured that the senior citizens do not live unprotected, ignored or marginalised. The State Government has also taken a number of steps to strengthen their legitimate place in the society so that they may live the last phase of their lives with purpose, dignity and peace. Financial security, health care, shelter, welfare and other needs of older persons have been ensured by the Government.
The Haryana Government is spending over Rs 824 crore annually for giving various concessions and facilities to its senior citizens under various schemes.
Alive to the fact that a great anxiety in old age relates to financial insecurity, the State Government has implemented old age allowance scheme to provide social security to the old persons. Under the scheme, the senior citizens of 60 years of age or above are given a monthly Old Age Samman Allowance of Rs 500. The enhanced allowance of Rs 700 per month is given to those senior citizens who have been getting this allowance for the last ten years. During the year 2009-10, Rs 902.79 crore were disbursed among 12,50,349 beneficiaries. A provision of Rs 817.70 crore has been made for the year 2010-11 under the scheme.
With the advancing age, old persons have to cope with health and associated problems, some of which may be chronic or of multiple nature and requiring constant attention. Health care needs of older persons have been given top priority. The State Government has implemented a comprehensive Surgery Package Programme to provide accessible, affordable and quality health care to the people. Under a package, free surgery facilities are provided to the BPL persons and it is also cost effective for others. The rates of surgery are much lower than those of private hospitals. The package includes all tests related to surgery, cost of surgery, stay in hospital and post-surgery treatment including medicines. Besides, spectacles upto the cost of Rs 200 are given free of cost to the senior citizens. During the year 2009-10, Rs 42 lakh were sanctioned and a provision of Rs 150 lakh has been made for the year 2010-11 for this purpose.
The State Government has also implemented integrated programme scheme to bring out qualitative improvement in the living standard of old persons. Under the schemes, Non-Governmental Organisations or Voluntary Organisations are given grant-in-aid for running day old care centres, old age homes, respite care home and continuous home, mobile health care, physiotherapy clinics, hearing aids, mental health care and special care, help line and consultant centre, multi-facility care centre for old widows, voluntary bureaus for old persons, etc.
The Haryana Government has also decided to set up Senior Citizen Clubs in all the urban estates of the State. During the year 2009-10, Rs 44.82 lakh were sanctioned for conducting these clubs in district Panchkula, Yamunanagar, Rohtak, Hisar, Narnaul, Bhiwani, Karnal, Rewari, Sirsa, Sonepat, Panipat and Jind. The best club is given a cash prize of Rs 5,000 on the occasion of International Senior Citizens Day on October 1 every year. During the year 2010-11, a sum of Rs 20 lakh has been made available. Six old age homes are being running at Sonepat, Bhiwani, Faridabad, Bahadurgarh, Meham and Julana by the voluntary organisations in the State.
The State Government has also implemented a scheme of setting up Senior Citizen Samman Clubs in the villages. Under the scheme, Rs 160.50 lakh were sanctioned for setting up such clubs at 1,000 villages during the year 2009-10 and a budget provision of Rs 160.50 lakh has been made for the year 2010-11 under the scheme. As many as 12 day care centres for old are being run at Samalkha, Sonepat, Bahadurgarh, Rewari, Bhaini Surjan, Kishangarh, Siman, Chamarian, Madina, Siwani Mandi, Hisar and Lijwana. During the year 2009-10, a sum of Rs 34 lakh was sanctioned to set up voluntary organization/ network in district Ambala, Jind, Rohtak, Kaithal, Karnal, Rewari, Narnaul and Sirsa and a budget provision of Rs 18 lakh has been made in the year 2010-11 under the scheme. Old age homes were also being constructed in district Yamunanagar, Hisar and Rohtak by the voluntary organisations with the financial assistance of Government of India.
The State Government is also running a home for old and handicapped persons at Rewari in the name of Ch. Bansi Lal. The home has a capacity to house 100 inmates. In this house, free facilities of lodging, boarding, medical and entertainment are provided to the inmates, besides giving them Rs 50 per month per inmate as pocket money. During the year 2009-10, Rs 15.95 lakh were spent for providing these facilities to the inmates and a budget provision of Rs 23.02 lakh has been made during the year 2010-11.
The Haryana Government has implemented State Award Scheme for the senior citizens to boost up their morale. Under the scheme, five awards of Rs one lakh each, namely Ch. Ranbir Singh Centenarian Award, Mother Teresa Award, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Courage and Bravery Award, Mahatma Gandhi Panchayat Award and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Lifetime Achievement Award are given to the senior citizens on October 1, the International Senior Citizens Day. During the year 2010-11, a budget provision of Rs 11 lakh has been made for the scheme. The State Government is also providing 50 per cent concession in bus fare to the women of 60 years or above travelling in Haryana Roadways buses. During the year 2010-11, a budget provision of Rs two crore has been made for extending this concession to the beneficiaries.
The State Government is also providing free identity cardsto its senior citizens to enable them get benefits under State Government and Central Government schemes. During the year 2010-11, a budget provision of Rs one crore has been made for this purpose.
All these schemes implemented by the State Government will surely empower the senior citizens and boost their morale so that they may continue to contribute in the development of the society.