For years, a widowed Nirmala Gupta supported her two daughters and a grandson without any regular source of income. Social Welfare Department of the Delhi Government moots a helpline for such distress cases

Widowed Nirmala Gupta lives with her two daughters and a grandson. While none of the three women was getting the widow or destitute pension, the Delhi Government has now stepped in and come to their aid. It is also contemplating a helpline for all such cases in future.

After Ms. Gupta’s daughters, 40-year-old Mamta and 29-year-old Neerja were found in their Sector 8 house in Rohini in an extremely malnourished state by the para-medical staff and rushed to a city hospital, the incident had stirred the conscience of the city.

On Monday, the Delhi Government decided to provide 70-year-old Ms. Gupta with widow’s pension of Rs 1,500 per month and her two daughters with a destitute pension of Rs 1,000 each.

Social Welfare Minister Kiran Walia visited the two sisters at Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital and also met Ms. Gupta and her grandson. She has also appealed to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to provide them financial assistance through the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

“I was told that Ms. Gupta had once applied for widow’s pension from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and it had probably also started. But then it was abruptly discontinued and the family had no regular source of income for many years,” she said.

Prof. Walia said the problem with the pension provided by the MCD lies in that its beneficiaries change as per the whims of the councillors. “But now we will have a reliable pension for these women through the Delhi Government,” she assured.

The Minister said she had also taken up the issue of education of Mamta’s teenaged son, Shubham, with the Education Department, as he had been forced to drop out of school because of the family circumstances.

“The boy used to support his grandmother Ms. Gupta in all the household chores and in taking care of his mother and aunt. He was also under a lot of mental strain and always feared for the well-being of his grandmother. So we want the school to be considerate and help him out with his studies,” she said.

The Minister said a Delhi Government doctor has also been deputed to provide counselling to all the four family members. The sisters would be counselled once they are physically fit to take it.

Following this episode, which was on the lines of a similar case reported from Noida last year, Prof. Walia said the Social Welfare Department is working on starting a helpline for all such cases. “We will advertise a number which people, including neighbours, would be able to call for informing us about any destitute or widows who may be in need of help.”

“The Government can only act if it comes to know of such people, and this helpline would seek to bridge that gap,” she said.

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