Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai on Monday charged that the BJP government is neglecting senior citizens and has decreased the budgetary allocation for the ‘Ummid’ scheme and the palliative care centres where terminally ill patients get medicines.
AAP MLA Cruz Silva had raised questions about the Ummid day care centres in the ongoing assembly session.
“Ranu Mondal was singing on the streets, someone made her video and she became famous. We have senior citizens who have talent and may get opportunities if we encourage them,” Silva said.
Speaking on this issue Vijai Sardesai said that the budgetary allocation for the Ummid day care centres was brought down to Rs 55 lakhs from Rs 1.05 crore, while for the palliative care it has been brought down to Rs 10 lakhs from Rs 52 lakhs. “It is not correct to decrease the budgetary allocation, where senior citizens are benefitting,” Sardesai said.
Defending the government’s decision, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that as they received less applications for both the schemes, the budgetary allocation was decreased.
“Utilisation of funds is not taking place. We can make provision of supplementary budget if funds are required for this purpose. Even for palliative care we didn’t receive any applications. We can give the benefits if we receive applications,” Sawant said.
However, Vijai Sardesai targeted the ruling party benches saying it is wrong to decrease the budget allocation in such situations as it is the duty of the government to reach out to people.
“To how many local bodies the government has reached out for establishment of Ummid day care centres,” he questioned, adding that the government should be serious about it as the population of senior citizens is increasing.
Sawant said let the local bodies take the initiative and the government will provide them assistance to establish Ummid centres.
Cruz Silva asked the government to bring some changes in the scheme and add entertainment and Yoga classes.
Social Welfare Minister Subhash Phal Dessai said that due to nuclear families, senior citizens are left alone in their homes and hence recreational activities are important. “We are providing facilities there, if Yoga needs to be added then we can think anout it. If we get participation then this can be done,” he said
Phal Dessai said that there are 49 Ummid care centres in Goa, but there has been a very poor response. “We have only one centre with 70 members, in other centres participation is from 10 to 20,” he said.
He informed that, post Covid, out of 49 only 10 Ummid centres are working. “MLAs and NGOs should come forward to establish these centres.”