The Senior Citizen Welfare Fund will be used to purchase electric buggies for ferrying senior citizens at airports. An Inter-Ministerial Committee which administers the fund has cleared the expenditure of around Rs 1 crore for the purchase of these electric buggies.
The senior citizen friendly initiative comes in the midst of a pending decision of the government to revise the two decade old National Policy for Older Persons. Sources said the government is ready with the draft but the clearance from the Union Cabinet is awaited. There are several provisions in the policy which encourages children to support parents in their old age.
The Senior Citizen Welfare Fund was set up around three years ago in which unclaimed amounts are transferred. The fund gets money from unclaimed deposits of Public Provident Fund (PPF) and Employee Provident Fund (EPF). The money in accounts which have been inoperative for more than seven years is also diverted to this fund.
A proposal to spend Rs 1.27 crore was given to the Inter-Ministerial Committee for purchase of 30 golf carts which has finally cleared expenditure of Rs 97 lakhs. These golf carts or electric buggies will be purchased for the airports in Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Jaipur, Lucknow, Trivandrum, Goa and Bhubaneswar. A Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment official said that a final go-ahead will have to be taken from Department of Economic Affairs, Finance Ministry for the expenditure.
The new initiative will be to introduce golf carts for transporting old age people at airports from the check-in point to the departure gate. While private airports have provisions for facilitating aged passengers, airports falling under Airport Authority of India (AAI) do not have such facilities.
A spokesperson of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) said that PPP airports have better facilities for disadvantaged people compared to AAI airports as they have to maintain the worldwide ratings. Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) has been ranked number one in the world on airport service quality ranking. Last year, in the highest category of handling over 40 million passengers per annum, IGIA was number two.
Both the airports at Delhi and Mumbai have the facility of ferrying senior citizens from check-In point till boarding gate. Similar facilities for passengers with limited mobility are there at other PPP airports.
Along with this, there are ramps, disabled-friendly toilets and travelators at both the IGIA and Mumbai airport.