Thousands of widows and destitute women are living in pitiable conditions in various ashrams/homes in Vrindavan without any access to government-sponsored welfare schemes and proper medical facilities, the National Commission for Women has said in its report to Supreme Court.
The NCW report has annexed a comparable table of surveys conducted by the Nehru Yuva Kendra (NYK) and Nagarpalika Parishad, Vrindavan, which put the total figure of the widows and destitute women at 2,957 and 3,105 respectively.
Majority of these women are from West Bengal with no access to widow or old age pension and Annapurna scheme.
Of these 800 lived in six homes, two of which are run by government and the rest supported by government.
The NCW, which conducted a survey on the orders of the apex court, said, “The premises were the homes are run are over 100-year-old. The infrastructure is unsuited to the needs of the women who live there as there is no running water in the toilets and old women are required to climb stairs to reach their rooms.”
Stating that 60 per cent of the widows were over 60-year, the report said these women were exposed to cold in winter due to poor conditions of the these buildings. Over 80 per cent of them were illiterate.
The NCW, which took 30 months to respond to the petition filed by Environment and Consumer Protection Foundation, also exposed the official claims about the welfare schemes.
“As per records of the district welfare office, 2,819 women received old age pension and 892 widow pensios. However, among the 225 randomly interviewed women 68 per cent were found without pensions and 58 per cent without ration cards,” the NCW said.
The NCW recommended that old age homes and shelters with proper facilities should be opened and the women be given vocational trainings. It also recommended that all government schemes meant for widows and elderly women should be extended to them.