Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot said on Monday that the government is working on a national policy for senior citizens and is seeking to improve the existing law concerning their welfare. Replying to the debate on demands for grants of his ministry in the Lok Sabha, Gehlot rejected allegations of the Congress that the government has not provided money for some schemes for weaker sections and said that a few schemes have been amalgamated for better results.
The House later passed the demands for grants of the ministry by a voice vote. Gehlot said that the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which has several new provisions for the welfare of the elderly, is being examined by the standing committee.
The Bill provides that every police station has at least one official to deal with issues related to parents and senior citizens. It also asks the state governments to constitute a special police unit for senior citizens in every district. "The work is on for national policy on senior citizens," he said.
Gehlot said the ministry has become "active" in the last five years and has taken several historic decisions. He said a high-level board was also constituted for nomadic tribes. For 'divyang', 132 camps were set up in 126 districts to give assistance, he said. Venture capital fund has been set-up to promote entrepreneurship by the socially weaker section of the society, he said.
As per the revised estimate Rs 350 crore fund have been allocated for this venture capital, he said, adding, these are part of several steps taken by the government in the last 5 years. He also said there has been a reduction in the budget under this head.
The National Policy on Older Persons had been announced in 1999. The new policy seeks to incorporate issues such as financial and food security, healthcare and nutrition, safety and security and housing. It also takes into account demographic and socio-economic changes. Gehlot said the number of beneficiaries for welfare schemes had increased under the NDA government and the budgetary allocations had been properly utilised.
He said the government had taken steps to tackle the problem related to drug abuse and provided assistance in setting up de-addiction centres.
(With agency inputs)