New Delhi: Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to review the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, saying the Rs 200 per month granted under it is "an insult to the dignity of an individual".
Jairam wrote to the Prime Minister on May 16 after activist and National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy petitioned him on the issue demanding the pension amount be raised to Rs 2,000 per month.
Some 3 crore people aged over 60 years, receive the monthly pension.
Ramesh has also supported another demand of Roy and her Pension Parishad that the government do away with the Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) criteria for identifying beneficiaries under the pension scheme.
Noting that in most states, the beneficiaries were getting pension amounts bunched every few months, Ramesh has said that payment must be made at an assured date into the bank account of the person concerned. He has already submitted a proposal to use `Aadhar`, the special identity numbers being generated by the Unique Identification Authority of India.
However, Ramesh has rejected the third demand of the Pension Parishad that men over 55 years and women over 50 years should be eligible for pension.
Aruna Roy and her associates, under the banner of Pension Parishad, will meet NAC chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday to discuss the issue.
Nikhil Dey, an associate of Roy told a news agency, "There is a grave crisis facing the elderly today and something serious must be done about it."
He said the issue has received support cutting across the political spectrum and even from President Pratibha Patil.