New Delhi, Jan 1: Senior citizens living below the poverty line will be given assistive living devices like walking sticks, spectacles and hearing aids by the government under a new scheme.
The programme will be launched in two districts in each state and benefit a minimum of 1,000 people in each district between January and March.
Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot has written to all chief ministers to identify beneficiaries in those districts.
"A committee chaired by deputy commissioners/collectors of the districts is being set up to identify beneficiaries. The panel would also take up basic medical tests to assess the level of requirement of hearing aids, spectacles, dentures etc for the senior citizens.
"I would request immediate identification of beneficiaries so that the programme can be launched in identified districts in your state/Union Territory administration," he said.
Central public sector unit Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO) will identify agencies for the supply of the necessary equipment.
The entire cost of the devices will be borne by the government.
"The objective is to bring senior citizens belonging to economically weaker sections into active life and build an aged-friendly society by providing them with devices to maintain near normalcy in morbidity.
"The assistive living devices will be of high quality and conform to the standards laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards," a senior official of the Ministry said.
The scheme aims to address disabilities like low vision, hearing impairment, loss of teeth and locomotor disability. The equipment will include walkers, crutches, tripods, spectacles, hearing aids and dentures.
A person should be at least 60 years old to avail of the facilities under the scheme. Also, the beneficiary will have to be certified by competent authority as a person living below the poverty line.
There are 10.38 crore senior citizens in the country as per the Census of 2011. 5.2 per cent of them suffer from some sort of old age-related disability.
"It is projected that the number of senior citizens will increase to around 173 million by 2026," the official added.