October 1 marks the International day of older persons or the World Elderly Day, with the year 2012 based on the theme "Longevity: Shaping the Future". But the initiative of the administration towards the elderly in the city seems to be totally missing.
Listing out their complaints against the UT administration, senior citizens alleged that very little had been done for them. They say the administration has set up old-age homes and occasionally tries to conduct interactive programs, but monetary funding and basic facilities like health care, travels, and tax benefits that need to be provided are completely missing.
Jagmohan Sharda, chairman, Retirees and Senior Citizens Welfare Council, sector 39/40, said: "The administration is giving us no help, and everything is only on paper. The least the administration can do is to give us free medical facilities in government and private hospitals of the city."
Daljit Singh Grewal, president, Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association, said, "Monetarily, we are not getting any support from the administration to carry on various activities like programmes for health check-up, upliftment of girls in slums and improving the hygiene conditions of women in colonies." The association has been running six various kinds of philanthropic activities in the city without any monetary help from the administration.
"Our annual expenditure comes to around Rs 21 lakh. We are running computer centres for the underprivileged children and every penny comes from our pocket, including our pensions and donations. All that the UT administration gives us is Rs 20,000 annually. Do you think that's enough," asked Grewal, who has been making persistent efforts to bring all these issues to the notice of the administration but to no avail.
"Recently, we came to know about a major fact through the ministry of finance that a whopping amount of Rs 30,000 crore has been contributed by the senior citizens and of these Rs 425 crore are unclaimed fixed deposit with banks, Rs 3,000 crore with insurance companies, Rs 26,000 as employees provident fund. We only want the Central government to start a welfare fund for the senior citizens with all this money," said Grewal.
Sachin Sharma, president of Youth Innovative Society, who organises regular programmes, said: "Old-age homes need improvement. Although they offer facilities, there is lot of room for improvement."
Anil Kumar, home secretary and secretary social welfare, said, "There are some projects going on for senior citizens. Our limitation is that we have to work on the directions of the government. We are in no way insensitive towards their problems, it is just that our hands are tied because we are a government body and cannot go beyond the set policies."