A myopic decision of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) has deprived almost half of those over the age of 88 from receiving senior citizens allowance that is currently being distributed by the authority.
The KMC has decided to provide a monthly allowance of Rs 10,000 as senior citizen allowance to people above 88 in the metropolis.
It is the first time that any local body in the country has started providing a generous allowance to senior citizens from its internal resource to honor them at a time when the government provides Rs 500 to senior citizens aged over 70 on a monthly basis.
Though the metro city dwellers had welcomed the KMC´s decision, a provision has resulted in the exclusion of many senior citizens from the allowance scheme.
Nearly half of the eligible senior citizens have been deprived of the generous allowance due to the decision of the council of the KMC to consider only those with voters´ identity card eligible for it.
The 22nd council of the KMC had announced the allowances for the senior citizens over the age of 88.
“The authority overlooked the fact that not all senior citizens over the age of 88 can walk and get their voter´s identity card made,” said Ram Lal Maharjan, a local of KMC ward-26.
Pranmaya Karmacharya is in her late eighties and can hardly see, listen or walk. Due to her old age, her family members could not take her to the local authority during the time of the second Constituent Assembly election to prepare her voter´s identity card.
“She is eligible for the allowance. Just because she has no voter´s identity card, she is being deprived of the allowance,” said Niranjan Basnet, administrative chief of the KMC ward-26. Of the total 18 senior citizens applying for the monthly allowances from the ward, only 11 elderly received the allowance.
The other seven have been denied the allowance because they don´t have voter´s identity card.
Instead of easing the process of getting the allowance for the elderly, who tend to be in fragile health condition, the KMC made it complex by making the voter´s identity card mandatory for receiving the allowance, said he.
Of the total 243 applicants from all the 35 wards in the KMC, as many as 150 applicants are unable to get the allowance because of the provision.
“The rationale behind the council´s decision requiring voter´s identity card is to ensure that only the senior citizens who are proper residents of the metropolis receive the assistance rather than those migrating from other areas of the country. But unfortunately, due to their old age, many senior citizens could not register their names in the voter´s list,” said Rajya Prakash Pradhananga, chief of Social Development Department at KMC.
The department has allocated Rs. 1,500,000 for the allowance.
He said the department will propose the council to revise the existing provision. “As the decision was announced by the council, the decision cannot be reversed now. So, those who have been deprived will get the allowance from next fiscal year only.”