They feel there is no monitoring of welfare schmes for the elderly

Bent with age and seated in a corner dressed in a lungi, the 75-year-old Velu has been working in a construction site for most of his life. Now, he can’t work anymore because of his poor eyesight and is dependent on his son and daughter-in-law for food. He has lived all his life at Thirukannur.

“Though I have worked hard all my life, I have almost nothing, and my old-age pension is erratic. The only power I have is the power of the ballot, and now that nobody seems to be backing me, I might as well use the NOTA option,” he says.

Close to 15 per cent of the voters in the Union Territory of Puducherry are over 60 years, and while they have the right to vote, they say they have been largely neglected by most parties. At the end of the summary revision, which was released in January, 1,15,939 senior citizens were registered to vote. Of these, 71,800 are between the ages of 60 and 70, 33,557 are between 70 and 79 and 10,582 voters are over 80. Most of these voters feel that though the government introduced schemes, there is no monitoring of whether the schemes are being completed. There is not even a place where they can air their grievances.

Speaking to The Hindu, M. Kandasamy from the Senior Citizens Welfare Association of Puducherry said: “The National Policy for Older Persons was drafted in 1999; through it, a number of problems faced by the elderly will be resolved. Parliament should make a push to make it an Act.”

Dependence on medicines

One of the biggest problems the elderly face is their dependence on medicines. This means most of the senior citizens spend a bulk of their pension and income on buying medicines, so, a scheme like the one that is being implemented in Andhra Pradesh, where the government helps the elderly but generic medicines, will help, said Velayudham, another senior citizen. For most of the senior citizens, one of the main problems, especially in Puducherry, was the lack of access to public toilets in and around the town. Building more toilets would help them, said an elder.

Better roads, traffic control and community dog control were the other issues that affected not only the senior citizens but also the public. The new Member of Parliament should pressure the government to act on these matters, Komalavalli from Vanitha Club said.

Walkathon

To promote ethical voting, the seniors organised a walkathon recently. The most important thing is to make a full use of the one vote that is given, many of them said.

More In: Puducherry