Senior citizens, living below the poverty line, will now get for free assistive devices like hearing aids and wheelchairs under the government’s Rs 477 crore scheme which is set to be rolled out next week. The proposed ‘Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojna’ will be launched at a camp in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district on March 25 by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot and Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu.
A similar camp will be organised on March 26 in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain district. “The aim of the scheme is to bring the older people from the economically weaker sections into active life and build an aged-friendly society by providing them with devices to maintain near normalcy in morbidity,” said a senior official in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
The government has set a target of distributing assistive living devices among 2,000 identified beneficiaries for free in each camp, he added.
“Following this, the camps will be organised in two districts of each state for the whole year. The Minister, in December last year, had written to all the chief ministers to identify the beneficiaries in those districts,” the official said.
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The devices to be distributed among the beneficiaries will be of high quality and conform to the standards laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
He said that to avail the facilities under the scheme, a beneficiary should be of at least 60 years and will have to be certified by competent authority as a person living below the poverty line.
According to the official, the department had suggested three names for the scheme out of which the Prime Minister’s Office has given nod to ‘Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojna’.
The scheme aims to address the disabilities like low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth and locomotor disability.
The beneficiaries will get walkers, crutches, wheelchairs, tripods, spectacles, hearing aids and dentures among others.
“The government wanted to roll out the scheme in January, but had to postpone it in view of the assembly elections in five states,” he said.
There are 10.38 crore senior citizens in the country as per the Census of 2011 and 5.2 per cent of them suffer from some sort of old age-related disability.
“It is projected that the number of senior citizens will increase to around 173 million by 2026,” the official added.