| Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council chief P.N. Syiem felicitates Wir Sawkmie and Phren Wahlang during International Day for Older Persons in Mawsynram village of East Khasi Hills on Monday. Telegraph pictures |
Shillong, Oct. 1: When the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, was formulated, it may not have been necessary in a state like Meghalaya.
A predominantly “indigenous” state, Meghalaya has been known for having in place strong social and cultural bonds where the elderly were being well looked after by their immediate family members.
However, with the changing scenario where older people are being driven to live in old-age homes like the Mercy Home in Nongthymmai, rules for implementation of the act were recently framed.
“We see a lot of old people being forced to leave their homes and to seek shelter in old-age homes. It is an unfortunate situation,” John B. Lyngdoh, a student in a city college, said.
He said reminding the people about the existence of such an act is significant, especially on the occasion of the International Day for Older Persons, which is being celebrated today.
“I never thought that we would require a law to make the maintenance of parents and senior citizens an obligation,” Lyngdoh said.
The rules for the act were laid down before the Assembly last month during the autumn session, for approval. With the framing of the rules, maintenance of parents and the elderly is now an obligation.
The act was put into place to provide more effective provisions for the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens.
Under Section 4 (1) of the act, a senior citizen including a parent who is unable to maintain himself from his own earnings or out of the property owned by him, shall be entitled for maintenance allowance from children and relatives who are in possession of his property.
They would be entitled to inherit his property only in the event of his death.
If the children do not take care, then the parents can lodge a complaint before a tribunal.
The respective sub-divisional officer (civil) and the higher appellate tribunals at the district to be headed by the deputy commissioners will head the tribunal.
The act also provides for a scheme for management of old age home for senior citizens.
Along with the rest of the world, International Day for Older Persons was observed at Seng Khasi Hall, Khlieh Shnong, and Mawsynram village in East Khasi Hills today.
Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council chief P.N. Syiem while addressing the function said older persons can always serve as a guiding force and source of inspiration for the young generations.
He urged the younger generation to look after their parents and maintain ancestral customs by giving due recognition and respect to the older people who have contributed to the betterment of the present generation.