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Centre's schemes for senior citizens elicit poor response from NGOs

T. Ramakrishnan


There are 17 multi-service centres for senior citizens and six mobile medicare units

At present, there are 78 homes, of which 49 are supported by Centre and the rest by State


CHENNAI: The response from non-government organisations in the State to various projects of the Union government for senior citizens has been poor.

Few takers

Among the projects that have seen few takers are maintenance of respite care homes and continuous care homes, day care centres for Alzheimer's disease/dementia patients, mental health care and specialised care centres for senior citizens, regional resource and training centres and formation of Vridha Sanghas/Senior Citizens' Associations, according to a senior official of the Social Welfare Department.

These projects form part of the Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP). The ambit of the IPOP was enlarged since April 2008 to include more projects. Till then, it covered projects – old age homes, multi service centres for senior citizens and mobile medi-care units.

As part of the scheme, the Union government is generally ready to provide 90 per cent of the cost of the projects with the rest to be provided by the organisation concerned.

The official says the State government is keen on involving the NGOs in the scheme as it believes they are better placed to implement the IPOP projects.

The organisations have to send their proposals to the district social welfare officers, who would, in turn, forward them for approval of the State-level Committee. Normally, the proposals recommended by the State-level Committee receive the Centre's nod.

Old Age Homes

The project of maintenance of old age homes is among the handful of projects that have received the authorities' assistance. At present, there are 78 homes, of which 49 are supported by the Centre and the rest by the State. Three districts – Dharampuri, Ramanathapuram and Ariyalur- do not have any such home. The State government has decided to open the homes in these districts soon.

There are 17 multi-service centres for senior citizens and six mobile medicare units.

The official points out that though there was some response to the project for opening helplines and counselling centres for senior citizens, it was not up to the desired extent.

The official adds that Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi recently approved a proposal to extend the coverage of the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme to one more lakh persons.

At present, about 9.2 lakh senior citizens receive a monthly pension of Rs.400 each, of which the Union and State governments provide Rs.200 each.

Prior to the scheme acquiring the present character in November 2007, the State government implemented it since April 1962.

Besides, around 1.9 lakh persons are covered under the Destitute Agricultural Labourers' Pension Scheme, under which a similar amount is paid to the beneficiaries. The State government bears the entire cost of this scheme.

While beneficiaries of the National Old Age Pension Scheme are 65 years of age or above belonging to households of Below Poverty Line (BPL), those under the other pension scheme should be 60 years of age, the official explains.

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