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Old Age Homes, Facilities for Elderly in Himachal Exist Only On Papers Despite Huge Grant-in-Aid From Centre

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Details of Old Age homes in Himachal PRadesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh ranks fourth in terms of the highest population of elderly and senior citizens in the country, say United Nations Population Fund (India) and the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, India. However, the current and previous state governments have neglected the mandate to deliver services of old age homes and other ancillary facilities. There is no dearth of schemes for elderly and financial grants from the Centre government, but still, the state governments never undertook proper studies of the census to assess the population of the elderly and their needs.  Despite having such a large population of elderly, the state has only one government old age home, which was constructed recently in Shimla. These revelations were made in a petition filed in the State High Court by Advocate Vandana Misra.

After hearing the petition, the State High Court has directed the state government to furnish the details of all the Government run or private old age homes as well as the information, in a tabulated form, of all the cases filed by the senior citizens before the Deputy Commissioners seeking one or the other relief under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. The case is listed for June 11, 2019. 

As per the 2011 census, Himachal has a population of seven lakh who are aged 60 years and above – 10.2% of the state’s total population. This percentage is higher than the national average of 8.6%.

The highest elderly population in the state was mapped in Hamirpur district at 12.8%, followed by Bilaspur at 11.09%, Kangra at 11.7%, and Una at 11.5%. Solan and Sirmaur have the lowest population of elderly persons at 8%.

 According to the information furnished in the petition, between 1991 and 2011, the overall population in the state increased by 37%. The population of senior citizens aged 60 plus increased by a huge margin of 67% and the elderly population of the 80 plus age group increased by a whopping percentage of 87%. This makes the elderly population in the state as the fastest growing age segment as compared to other age groups.

In the petition, the petitioner pointed out that the state government has not undertaken a proper study of the various reports with regard to the census carried out by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in June 2016, as well as the study conducted by the UNFP in 2011. Due to these lacunae, they have failed to establish the requisite and proportional number of old age homes where they are most needed in terms of population demographics distributions across various districts. The districts of Hamirpur, Kangra, and Una desperately need old age homes, day care centres, elderly care centres, and physiotherapy units.

Despite a huge amount of grant-in-aid for running and maintenance of old age homes and formulation of schemes, the state government has not done much to establish an adequate number of old age homes and other senior citizen associations, the petitioner said.

There is only one old age home in district Shimla, which was recently set up at Basantpur under the Social Welfare Board, whereas two private senior citizen old age homes have been set up in District Mandi and one in Sirmaur.

As per the petition, the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in the Centre has formulated the Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP) in 1992. The IPOP scheme of the Central Government provides for the following measures:

  1. Maintenance of old age homes
  2. Maintenance of Respite Care Homes,
  3. Running of Multi Service Centres for Older Persons
  4. Mobile Medicare Unit
  5. Day Care Centre for the care of old persons with Dementia
  6. Multi Faculty Care Centre for older windows
  7. Physiotherapy Clinics
  8. Regional Resources and Training Centers
  9. Helplines and Counseling for Older Persons
  10. Programs for Sensitization of Schools/College students
  11. Awareness projects for older persons
  12. volunteers bureau for older persons
  13. Formation of Vridha Sanghas/Senior Citizens Associations/Self Help Groups.

Based on the IPOP Scheme of the Centre government, the State Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, Himachal Pradesh, also formulated a similar scheme called Integrated Scheme for Older Persons in 2012. The objectives of the scheme were to improve the quality of life and maintain the dignity of older persons by providing basic amenities of life like shelter, food, medical care, entertainment opportunities and encouraging productive & active ageing through NGOs.

However, despite provisions of revised cost norms of financial assistance to existing projects and the addition of several innovative projects such as running of multi-service centre, mobile medicine units, day care centers for persons with dementia, multi-facility care centers for the old, formation of senior citizen associations etc., not much initiative has been shown by the state government to bring fruition to these innovative facilities.

These measures and facilities are existing only on papers and for which grant in aid has been liberally sanctioned by the Centre government. The state government is neglecting to deliver these facilities to the senior citizens of the state for whom these policies were made in the first place, the petition said.  

The petitioner has requested the court to take cognizance of the fact that an adequate number of old age homes and other ancillary services as outlined above have not been provided by the state government, which has only established one old age home under it in Shimla district.

Petitioner requested the court that HP Government and its concerned departments should be directed to:

  1. To set up an adequate number of old age homes, day care centres, helplines and counseling numbers in the state and more particularly taking into consideration the district of Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Kangra and Una, which has the highest proportion of senior citizens.
  2. To provide for services such as multi-services centre for older persons, mobile Medicare units, multi-facility care centres for older windows, the formation of senior citien associations/self help groups as has been mandated by the IPOP scheme.
  3. To provide proper and adequate facilities for food, shelter, clothing etc. in consonance with the parameters prescribed by the ISOP for effective running and maintenance of old age homes and day care centres.
  4. To disseminate information to the public by means of paper publications, flyers, radio, television advertisements to publicize the existence of old age benefit schemes as well as the existence of old age homes so that the senior citizen population is made aware of the existing old age homes of which they can avail services.
  5. To identify and collaborate with NGOs who might be interested and have expertise in establishing and collaborating with the state in the maintenance of old age homes, day care centres and other ancillary services.
  6. To carry out a comprehensive audit of the number and condition of Old Age homes being run by the state as well as private NGOs in the state and submit a report before the court.
  1. Any other activity, which is considered suitable to meet the objective of the scheme

Here it’s pertinent to mention that it’s a matter of paramount importance. Due to varying socio-economic situations, several senior citizens are left with no choice but live in old age homes.

The Petitioner filed a writ petition for infringement of fundamental rights under the Article 21, 41, and 46 of the Constitution of India, which extends provisions of welfare measures to weaker sections of society including senior citizens, who are entitled to a decent and dignified life, shelter, food and all other basic amenities.

Under this Article, it becomes the duty of the state to act as the guardian or parent of such persons under the mandate of “Loco Parentis’. The state is bound to provide for old age homes etc.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Kotkhai Custodial Death Case: Forced to Consume Liquor, Cannabis, then Tortured, Witness Tells Court

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Kotkhai Custodial Death case trail witnesses

Shimla-In the Kotkhai custodial death case, six more witnesses recorded their statements in the special CBI court in Chandigarh on October 9, 2019. One of the witnesses included Ashish Chauhan – an accused in Gudia rape and murder case, who was later discharged by the CBI.

While three accused – former Inspector General of Police, Zahur H Zaidi, former SP, Shimla, DW Negi, and DSP, Theog, Manoj Joshi-were already granted bail by the court, the bail plea of three others was dismissed yesterday. These three accused included former Station House Officer (SHO), Kotkhai Police Station, Rajinder Singh, head constable Rafee Mohammad, and constable Raneeta.

In his statement, prosecution witness Ashish Chauhan told the court that he was picked up from his home on July 9, 2017, by three policemen and was taken to Bankufer rest house, where he was interrogated. On July 9, he was taken to Chhaila police post where he was kept till July 10.

Ashish, in his statement, told the court that Zaidi, Bhajan Dev Negi, Rattan Negi, PSO Sushil, PSO Sunil, and Manoj Joshi started torturing him from July 11 using different techniques. They asked him to confess to the crime, which he had not committed, Ashish said. He alleged that he was tied upside down with a rope and beaten brutally with sticks and given electric shocks. He also alleged that during this torture, he has sustained grieve injury to his spinal cord. 

He also alleged that Zaidi forcefully made him consume neat alcohol. Zaidi smoked cannabis and also forced him to smoke the same, Ashish alleged.

On the intervening night of July 13-14, his signatures were taken and he was told that an FIR was registered. The police was also alleged of keeping him in custody illegally without taking him to the court within 24 hours of arrest. It was only on July 15 that he was taken to the local court in Theog and was officially taken on remand.  

Other than Ashish, statements of other prosecution witnesses including Dr HV Acharya, Assistant Director, Forensic Science Laboratory, Gujarat, who had conducted BEOS and narco test on Ashish Chauhan, Rajinder Singh, Lokjan, Deepak and Subhash Singh, was also recorded. 

As per the conclusion of the report, no the role of five accused was observed in the act of rape and murder of Gudia as the motive of rape and murder were not established. Similarly, narco and BEOS test did not suggest any role of Rajinder in the killing of Suraj inside Kotkhai Police Station lock-up.

Further, prosecution witness Dr Ashwani Soon, who is a radiologist with DDU Zonal Hosptial, Shimla, Pritam Chand, Amar Singh Verma and constable Ajay Kumar also recorded their statement and were cross-examined.

Earlier, in the previous hearing in the case in September 2019, six prosecution witnesses had recorded their statement in the court. As a crucial revelation, the driver of Zaidi had told the court that he was with the accused from July 11 to July 13, 2017. He confirmed that he took Zaidi to the spot where the body of the rape victim was lying on July 11. Later, the driver said, he took Zaidi to Kotkhai Police Station and then to the Guest House of Public Works Department in the afternoon. Five accused were also kept at the HPPWD guest house illegally after their arrest.

Similarly, during a hearing on August 16, 2019, two villagers, Prashant Negi and Ishan, had given statements that they were illegally detained and kept at the said guest house. They had also told the court that they were brutally beaten, kept naked, and given third-degree torture between July 11 and July 13. These two CBI witnesses had identified Zaidi and then SP DW Negi and other police officials who were present during this time.

There are total 60 prosecution witnesses of CBI in the case. Statements of over 26 witnesses have already been recorded.

On August 29, 2017, CBI had arrested eight Police officials including the IG Zaidi in relation to the custodial killing of Suraj – an accused in the Gudia rape and murder case- on July 18, 2017. Later, then SP DW Negi was also arrested. CBI had later discharged all remaining accused alleging that they were innocent and were framed by the said police officials.

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Himachal BJP Leaders Including President Satti Make Mockery of HC Orders and Laws of Entry on Sealed Roads

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Hp BJP President Satpal Satti Breaks Rule

Shimla-Entry of vehicles on the Ridge Maidan is prohibited except for the emergency vehicles and vehicles of the Governor and the Chief Minister. But this is not the only concern; the Ridge Maidan and the tank beneath it have developed cracks. The movement of vehicles could make things worse. However, the Ministers, MLAs, Govt Officials, and even leaders of the ruling BJP do not care about what the law or the state High Court says or they don’t care about the sensitive condition of the Ridge Maidan.

The Chief Minister Jairam Thakur led Bharatiya Janata Party government had made a promise to the people of the state that it will put a check on VIP culture. However, neither the Ministers nor the MLAs of BJP are keeping this promise. They are openly defying laws related to entry and parking on sealed roads, as well as, showing disregard to the orders of the State High Court. The VIP culture is flourishing.

In such an instance, on September 25, 2019, on the occasion of Birth anniversary of Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya, a drive to clean statues of great leaders of the Nation established in Shimla town was organized. The Chief Minister also took part in the drive and cleaned the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai, former Prime Ministers Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi, and first Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Dr. Y.S. Parmar and Lt. Gen. Daulat Singh situated at The Ridge Shimla.

BJP State President Satpal Singh Satti also took part in it. But he forgot to show regard to rules and regulations and to the orders of the state High Court. His car was seen parked in front of the state library on the historic Shimla Ridge Maidan. Some other government vehicles including that of the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur was also on the sealed road.

As per the rules, as well as, the High Court orders, except emergency vehicles and vehicles of the Governor and the Chief Minister, no vehicle is allowed to enter the sealed road. However, enjoying the perks of power, the BJP President, displayed how political power allows leaders to over-ride rules and regulations.

This is not the first instance. Earlier, on August 28, 2019, at an event organized by BJP to pay tribute to their senior party leader Arun Jaitley, several ministers, MLA, and other government officials reached the Gaiety Theatre in their vehicles. The police was helpless and instead of enforcing the orders of no entry on the sealed Ridge Maidan, they were seen facilitating them.

Moreover, neither the Dailies nor online news portals highlighted it.

Even the Chief Minister isn’t following the orders of the Supreme Court regarding the ban on usage of the multi-toned horns in official vehicles. As per information obtained through an RTI, the vehicles of the Chief Minister and several other ministers were allegedly still using sirens/multi-tone horns in their official vehicles. A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua has sought a reply from the state government in its order passed recently. The order was passed on a petition filed by the HP High Court Bar Association.

Then, daily, several VIP cars with stickers of MLA could be seen parked on the sealed road near Clarks hotel. Pictures of these vehicles could be seen on social media posted by commoners. Several readers have shared these images with Himachal Watcher too. These posts receive a lot of critical comments from the people, but it never bothers these VIPs.

Parking on Sealed Roads Is Prohibited by Court Orders?Though the parking is prohibited on sealed roads of Shimla for…

Himachal Watcher द्वारा इस दिन पोस्ट की गई बुधवार, 7 अगस्त 2019

Then, there are VIP cars breaking traffic queues and parked wrongly, causing traffic jams.

#HPGovt Vehicles Continue Creating Traffic Nuisance With govt stickers on their cars, govt officials continue to…

Himachal Watcher द्वारा इस दिन पोस्ट की गई गुरुवार, 12 सितंबर 2019

What message the ruling party and the government want to send to the people? Do they want to make it a matter of prestige to violate laws and defy court orders

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APMC Bill 2019: Will it End Exploitation of Farmers in Himachal? This is What Minister Markanda and MLA Rakesh Singha Have to Say

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APMC Bill 2019 agriculture minister markanda and mla rakesh singha

Shimla-The Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Bill 2019 would check exploitation of farmers and apple growers by commission agents and traders, says the Agriculture Minister Ram Lal Markanda. Unless this Bill is passed, the government has no control over existing APMC, thus, despite being the Agriculture Minister, he is helpless to get justice for the farmers, Markanda had told media couple of weeks ago.

However, Rakesh Singh, MLA of Theog Constituency, has a different opinion regarding the Bill. He said he has gone through the Bill thoroughly. Singha rejected Markands’s claim that the government has no control over the APMC. He asks as to how it is possible when the majority of the APMC members are officials of the state government.

Video: MLA Rakesh Singh on Agriculture Minister’s Claim That He Has No Control Over APMC

When asked whether the new APMC Bill would actually benefit farmers and fruit growers of the state, Singha said it was the other way round. With this bill, the government would permit that anyone from anywhere in India could open a market in Himachal. It’s natural that giant firms would use this opportunity, leading to shut down of small local businesses. He asserts that existing laws are equally strong.  

Video: Agriculture Minister Ram Lal Markanda and MLA Rakesh Singha on APMC Bill 2019

It’s pertinent to mention that apple growers, as well as, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti had been protesting over pending payments of hundreds of apple growers, which were not being paid by commission agents. Then there were complaints of unregistered and even blacklisted commission agents infiltrating the market and depriving growers of receiving justified prices for their produce. The growers approached the APMC and the state government several times with pleas to help them in recovering their payments worth lakhs of rupees. None of the two came to their rescue.

Led by the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, the growers were forced file FIRs against commission agents, following which some of the pending payments were recovered.

The response of the Agriculture Minister to these repeated instances of frauds and exploitations by traders and commission agents despite provisions of rules and regulations regarding the payments and conducting business in the markets was that he has no control over the APMC at all. As per Markanda, the solution lies in the new APMC Bill 2019, which was to be passed in the monsoon session of the HP Legislative Assembly. However, it was deferred till the winters session and was sent to Select Committee after some MLAs pointed out that the Act should be carefully analysed before passing and implementing it.

Markanda says that the APMC Bill 2019 would be passed in the winter session and it would bring relief to the growers. He asserts that the Bill has provisions to prevent farmers and apple growers from frauds.

The Bill would apply on the commission agents based outside the state. After the implementation of this bill, the market fee would only be charged at markets and all other barriers would be lifted. It would open the market of entire India to growers by facilitating online trading, Markanda claimed. 

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