A queue for senior citizens at the booking counter of Bhubaneswar Railway Station. Picture by Ashwinee Pati
Bhubaneswar, Oct. 12: The municipal corporation is considering setting up elders-friendly facilities in the smart city.
Top officials of the civic body recently had a brief deliberation with the Federation of Senior Citizens' Association of Odisha wherein senior members gave voice to what facilities the senior citizen wants in the state capital.
According to the inputs, the federation has asked for special reservation for senior citizens in city buses as well as a fare concession of up to 50 per cent. "We often face difficulties while travelling by public transport such as city buses. The railways have reservation and fare concession, so should the city buses," said federation president Krupasindhu Sahu.
One of the major demands put forth by the federation and backed by the corporation officials is the provision of separate queues at healthcare institutions and the railway station. At present, none of the healthcare facilities - whether private or government - have such facilities for senior citizens, which is an obvious gap in the system.
A senior civic body official said they would hold a meeting with the health and family welfare department and other stakeholders and consider the demand of introducing separate queues for senior citizens at public facilities. "It is indeed a genuine demand of the senior people to have separate queues for them," said the official.
After the submission of the smart city proposal last year, the civic body official took inputs from the senior citizens and decided to introduce special facilities for them. One important aspect in the proposal was better signage and transport facilities including the pelican lighting system for the senior citizens.
"We called the senior citizens once again for their inputs on various problems faced by them in the city. We will take the demands into consideration and make efforts to introduce separate queues, reservation and concession of fares in city buses," said mayor Ananta Narayan Jena.
Another demand put forth by the federation is construction of a state-of-the-art old age home in the city. "The state government has already decided to have one old age home each in every district. As such, Bhubaneswar being the capital city of the state should go one step ahead and construct a special home for senior citizens, which could be a model for others," said Laxminarayan Bohidar, a senior citizen.
Among others issues, the federation asked for establishment of a geriatric ward at the municipal hospital, waiving of parking fees, free ambulance service and issuance of a special identity card for the senior citizens. The federation mentioned that many of the southern states, including Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, have such facilities for the senior citizens.
The federation further asked for a raise in old age pension. At present, citizens above 60 years of age are getting a mere Rs 300 per month towards pension from government. The senior citizen asks for provision of Rs 1,000 as pension for citizens between 60 and 79 years of age and Rs 1,500 for citizens above 80 years of age.