Shillong, June 21: Five years after it was enacted by the Centre, the Meghalaya government today gave approval to rules on Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
Fearing that Meghalaya — known as a tribal state where “strong social and cultural bonds” ensure that senior citizens and aged parents are taken care of — may not remain “insulated” from changing environments in family relationships, the Mukul M. Sangma cabinet today approved the rules (Meghalaya Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules, 2012) for the implementation of the act.
Despite these measures, several senior citizens and aged parents belonging to indigenous societies have been driven to old-age homes like Mercy Home near Nongthymmai to be taken care of.
The act was put into place to provide for more effective provisions for the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens, social welfare minister J.A. Lyngdoh said after the cabinet meeting held here.
Under Section 4 (1) of the act, a senior citizen, including a parent unable to maintain himself from his own earnings or out of the property owned by him, shall be entitled to maintenance allowance from children/relatives who are in possession of his property and are entitled to inherit his property in the event of his death.
If the children do not take care, then the parents can lodge a complaint before a tribunal. The tribunal will be headed by sub-divisional officers (civil) and higher appellate tribunals to be headed by deputy commissioners. The rules will also be placed before the Assembly in the next session for approval.
Moreover, the cabinet approved the constitution of the New Shillong Township Development Agency where chief secretary W.M.S. Pariat will be the chairman. The agency, to be registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, will be mandated with the task of acquiring land for the state government in the New Shillong Township in the Mawdiangdiang area, and financial and land management.
As of now, the land is yet to be acquired as survey is on, urban affairs minister Ampareen Lyngdoh said. The cabinet also approved leasing of land for 99 years for the establishment of Shillong Medical College under public-private partnership (PPP) mode.
“There were some clauses in the bidding documents that needed to be changed which the government has approved,” Sangma said.
Officials in the health department said the cabinet approved the leasing out of land to the agency for 99 years according to guidelines. “Earlier, the government approved only for 30 years which will not work,” an official said.
Earlier, the government had approved the bidding document for the construction of the Shillong Medical College and Hospital under PPP mode at the existing Reid Chest TB Hospital in the Upper Mawprem area.
The estimated project cost for the construction of the college, including 500 teaching beds, is around Rs 248 crore and is expected to commence from 2013.