Only 2 govt-run old age homes for over 18 lakh senior citizens
delhi Updated: Oct 12, 2016 13:37 IST
The case of 90-year old Govind Ram Jethani who was found living with the body of his wife in Kalkaji comes barely four months after a video clip of a daughter brutally assaulting her octogenarian mother in the same locality had come to light.
Despite having several relatives living in the same city, for over 42 years Govind Ram and his 85-year old wife lived an impoverished life in a dilapidated one-room house in Kalkaji.
It is only after the police found about the case on Monday morning that his 57-year-old nephew, Narinder Jethani, who claims to be his “adopted son”, offered to keep Govind Ram at his Safdarjung Enclave residence. “I had always asked them to stay with us, but Papa ji (Govind Ram) would never agree. Now, I am providing treatment for him at a private hospital,” he said. Govind Ram’s younger brother, however, said the issue revolved around a property dispute due to which their ties remained sour.
For activists working for the welfare of senior citizens, the incident comes as no surprise. Shunted by their children or kin and bogged down by ailments, the city’s elderly have never been as isolated as they are now, says GP Bhagat founder of SHEOWS, an NGO that provides shelter to destitute senior citizens.
Senior citizens constitute over 10% of Delhi’s population of 1.86 crore, yet there are only two government-run old age homes in the capital. Apart from this, there are 48 old-age homes in Delhi NCR run by NGOs and trusts where the average minimum cost incurred by a senior citizen is about R 4,000 per month. Those which are available for free are in pitiable conditions.
Himanshu Rath, founder-chairperson of Agewell Foundation, said, “Life is becoming more and more competitive. From nuclear families, we are now moving to nuclear individuals. So, sensitisation is very important here. Even the elderly must plan ahead and build social relations to fall back on in the later days. Besides, a chapter on the elderly and how they ought to be treated must be included in our school curriculum,” he said.
The latest report by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) termed Delhi the most unsafe city for senior citizens having a rate of 89 crimes per one lakh elderly population. It stated that senior citizens in the national capital are almost five times more likely to become victims of a crime than the rest of the country.
Repeated attempts to contact the Delhi government for comments were futile.