Restore railway fare concession for senior citizens: Kejriwal to PM Modi
Kejriwal also said that the reason cited by the central government to stop the scheme was its financial implications and added that in reality, this does not make any sense
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to restore the railway fare concession for senior citizens, saying no society and country can progress without the blessings of its elderly.
In a letter to the prime minister, he said the Centre has a budget of Rs 45 lakh crore and would incur a cost of Rs 1600 crore, which was just a "drop in the ocean", if it extends the concession to senior citizens.
It was "unfortunate" to terminate the rail ticket concession scheme for the elderly and monetary constraints cannot be the reason for it, he said and cited his government spending Rs 50 crore in the annual budget on a scheme for free pilgrimage.
"Please do not stop the concession given to the elderly in the railways. Crores of elderly people are benefiting from this concession," Kejriwal, who sent the letter on Saturday, tweeted.
By stopping the facility, a message was being given to senior citizens that the government did not care for them which was against the culture of the country, he said, adding that no person, society or country can progress without the blessings of the elderly.
Delhi was seeing progress in all areas due to the blessings of the elderly for whom free pilgrimage of religious places has been arranged by his government, he said.
"Please restore the concession to the elderly in the railways, crores of elderly people were benefiting from this scheme: Our progress is possible only with the blessings of our elders, but we often become arrogant that whatever we have achieved in life is the result of our hard work alone," Kejriwal wrote to the prime minister, appealing him for restoration of 50 per cent rebate to elderly in railway fare.
The Centre had in 2020 discontinued the concessions granted to senior citizens to discourage the movement of the public to arrest the spread of COVID-19
Kejriwal also said that the reason cited by the central government to stop the scheme was its financial implications and added that in reality, this does not make any sense.
"Monetary constraints cannot be the reason for stopping this concession. This is about intentions. By paying Rs 50 crore for the Mukhyamantri Teerth Yatra scheme from its annual state budget of Rs 70,000 crore, the Delhi Government does not become poor.
"The central government recently cited in Lok Sabha that it was spending Rs 1600 crore on the railway concession for senior citizens. The budget presented by the Central Government this year was of Rs 45 lakh crore. This cost of the railway concession is just a drop in the ocean," he said.
Saving such a small amount of money by inconveniencing crores of the elderly will not be beneficial to the country, Kejriwal said.
"By saving Rs 1600 crore annually in such a manner, the Central government will not become rich. Nor will it become poor by spending this amount on our elderly citizens," he said
A parliamentary standing committee recently recommended the resumption of the fare concession to senior citizens by the railways.
The Indian Railways used to offer a 40 per cent discount in fares to males aged 60 years or above and a 50 per cent discount was given to females with a minimum age of 58 years.
These concessions were granted in fares of all classes of Mail/Express/Rajdhani/ Shatabdi/Duranto group of trains but were withdrawn on March 20, 2020.
The Railways, however, said it had no immediate plans to resume the concession.