The monthly pension of Rs. 200 given to the elderly is “an insult to the dignity of an individual”, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has said, requesting the Prime Minister to immediately review the scheme.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Minister has recommended streamlining the disbursal system of the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS), under which Rs. 200 per month is given to three crore people over the age of 60.

“I have always held the view that the amount of pension that we are giving is an insult to the dignity of the individual,” Mr. Ramesh states in his letter dated May 16.

The Minister raised the issue after a meeting with the convenors of the Pension Parishad Baba Adhav and Aruna Roy a few days back.

The key demands of the Parishad include removal of poverty-line criteria while implementing the pension scheme, increasing the amount of pension from Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 and reducing the age eligibility from 60 years to 55 for men and 50 for women.

“I agree with the Pension Parishad that the BPL and APL criteria should be done away with. We are proposing to do away with the BPL and APL criteria in the sanitation programme and in the National Rural Livelihood Mission [NRLM] as well,” Mr. Ramesh said.

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