25-day ‘Pension Parishad’ protest ends

New Delhi, Dec 20: The 25-day “Pension Parishad” dharna at the Jantar Mantar here, demanding an increase in pension for senior citizens from BPL families from Rs.200 to Rs.2,000, ended Friday.

This is the sixth consecutive session of parliament during which the dharna (sit-down protest) was held in the national capital. However, it was called off without the demand being met.

Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) staged the protest.

Nikhil Dey, social activist and member, MKSS, said, “The government is yet to take cognisance of the plight of senior citizens from the below poverty line (BPL) families of the country who get a meagre sum of Rs.200 as pension every month. How can they survive on this petty sum?”

He said only five percent senior citizens in India receive the actual amount of pension they are entitled to whereas the remaining pensioners get only one-tenth of the Rs.1 lakh 60,000 crore spent by the central government on pension for senior citizens in the BPL category.

Social activist and MKSS founder Aruna Roy said there should be equality in the amount of pension given to senior citizens, irrespective of their belonging to BPL or above poverty line (APL) category.

“Why did the central government withdraw a proposal to increase the pension amount for senior citizens from BPL families from Rs.200 to Rs.500 when they were so resolute in doing it?” asked Roy. She added that the central government needed to justify this savage act.

The MKSS sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, expressing a sense of betrayal as the government didn’t fulfil the promise of meeting the senior citizens sitting on dharna.

IANS