With moist eyes and a warm hug, 76-year-old Prem Kaur welcomes you to her room at the senior citizen’s home in Sector 43.
Staying at the shelter home for the last 13 years, Prem has a real worry at hand and this time it has come not from her so-called family members, but from the UT administration, which has increased the room rent from Rs 4,500 to Rs 7,000 per month. She will also have to shell out another Rs 4,000 for the food, in addition to the power and water charges, which exceeds her capacity to pay.
Prem, who can barely reach the washroom with help of a walker, is the widow of a former army officer and she had retired from the Punjab social welfare department. She lost her husband soon after giving birth to a son. She gets a monthly pension of Rs 10,000.
Besides paying the shelter home charges, Prem has to buy medicines. The money she falls short of comes from her brothers and sisters.
“I miss the days when Jean Rodrigues (wife of former UT administrator General S FRodrigues (retd)) used to visit us and talk to us on phone. I have a small request to make that the administration should reconsider its decision of increasing the rent or else I will go homeless.”
On sharing the room, Prem says, “It is actually not easy to share the room. The practice was in vogue in the past, but it didn’t succeed as for elderly people it’s not easy to make adjustments according to the comfort of the other. For couples it is fine.”
Prem, is not the only one, there are several other occupants who are finding the rent exorbitant. A delegation of five inmates had gone to meet UT adviser Vijay Dev to apprise him of the situation.
One has to apply through the social welfare department by moving an application. The department conducts an interview to know the applicant’s background, family scenario and capacity to pay the monthly charges. Once admitted, inmates can stay for lifetime at the facility.
New rent Rs 7,000
Total rooms 23
Now an inmate will pay: Rs 7,000 room rent (single occupancy); Rs 4,000 food charges; power and water charges (according to bill)