Priyangi Agarwal and Ishita Bhatia

Bareilly / Meerut: Scores of inmates at old age homes across Uttar Pradesh are yet to get benefits of pension in the absence of Aadhaar cards. Many inmates have not been able to get Aadhaar cards as their fingers are oblate — with age and labour — and they are unable to give thumb impressions. At the old age home in Meerut, none of the 49 inmates have got pension, while 40 persons at Bareilly are awaiting pension.
Senior citizens aged between 60 and 79 years who are below poverty line are entitled to a monthly pension of Rs 400, while those above 80 years get Rs 500 per month. Inmates who have been abandoned by their families and forced to stay at old age homes need the pension money to meet their personal requirements.

When TOI visited the old age home in Meerut, it found that not a single person here was being given pension ever since the home was opened in March 2017. Ramesh Chaudhary, 68, a native of Muzaffarnagar, said, “After I parted ways with my son, I have been living in one old age home or the other. I haven’t been able to receive any pension here. They give us food, electricity, water and even medicines, but there are some medicines which are unavailable with them and for that I have to ask for money from my daughter, which I do not like. Only if we would have gotten any pension, things would have been different.”

Another inmate, Shashi Bala, 63, said, “If we want to visit our families and meet our grandchildren, we need money for travel expenses and purchasing gifts.”

An affidavit recently filed by the UP government in the Supreme Court said, “The state is fully committed to implementing provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 and is providing old age pension and implementing various welfare programmes for elderly citizens.”

Ashok Dixit, Bareilly social welfare officer, said, “Several inmates are not getting pension as their Aadhaar cards could not be made and they have no other identity card for address proof. According to the rules, Aadhaar cards cannot be made on the address of an old age home or any other organisation. Some of the senior citizens have not been able to register their biometric details because their fingerprints have been smoothened out by years of manual labour and sheer old age. According to the government’s policy, toe impression can be taken only for persons with disabilities.”

Raj Kumar, manager of an NGO which runs the old age home in Meerut, said, “The only budget we got is Rs 20 lakh for the furniture. Food, electricity and water is being provided by the NGO from its own funds. The procedure of pension can begin only after the social welfare officer makes a visit here and sends a monthly report but since it has not been done, the pension procedure cannot even begin in the first place. There are inmates who do not possess Aadhaar cards.”

Asked about it, Umesh Diwedi, Meerut social welfare officer, said, “I will ensure online pension application forms for every inmate is filled within this week