New Delhi: The Planning Commission has shot down a proposal of the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry to construct old age homes for indigent senior citizens, saying it did not fall under the central government`s domain.
In a letter to Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Kumari Selja on October 30, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia stated that old age homes come under the category of "non-recurring" expenditure and it would be appropriate if these are run by state governments only.
"Running old age homes is largely a non-recurring expenditure. It would therefore be more appropriate if such schemes are run by state governments," Singh wrote in the letter.
He was replying to the Ministry`s proposal to construct old age homes for indigent senior citizens under a centrally sponsored scheme during the 12th Five Year Plan.
"The proposal was first made for 11th Five Year Plan. But when the Ministry asked the Planning Commission to allocate funds for this, it was asked to wait till 12th Plan," sources in the Ministry said.
Ahluwalia`s letter was recently presented by the Ministry during the meeting of its five-member Consultative Committee.
"The Consultative Committee, which had recommended construction of these homes at district and taluka levels through Central funds, expressed its disappointment over the Planning Commission`s reply," the sources said.
In its letter, the Planning Commission also cited the Senior Citizens Act which vests the responsibility of setting up old age homes on the state governments only.
"Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 vests the responsibility of setting up Old Age Homes with the state governments. It is entirely the responsibility of the state governments to establish Old Age Homes for indigent senior citizens," it said.
As per the records available with the Ministry, the number of indigent senior citizens in the country is close to 1.50 crore.
"These are the people who are very old and have no children and means of livelihood. They belong to extremely poor category and are not able to take care of themselves or their family," the sources said.
The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry recently conducted the first ever national conference on ageing where it resolved to make necessary policies for safety and security of senior citizens.
"Currently over 65 per cent of Indian population is below 35 years. But with time this population will grow old. Therefore we need to act fast and put in place proper acts and policies to take care of the senior citizens," officials in the Ministry said.
China and Japan -- countries with large population of senior citizens -- have already implemented acts and laws to take care of their senior citizens, they added.