“I have four children, but they are dead for me. Me and my husband are staying separately and have no relationship with them.”
At 70, Akhtari and her husband have to live on their own. None of their children are supporting the old couple. Due to old age related ailments, her husband is not able to work and earn for their family and hence they are dependent on the monthly pension they get from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) which is too little for them to survive. Even the availability of the pension is not regular. He gets it once a year, but for the last one year he could not avail the pension from the local Councillor.
On the other hand, Akhtari is receiving Rs. 1,000 per month as old age pension from the government of Delhi. But still she is not satisfied with the current pension amount and feels that it is a small amount that is not sufficient for her to manage her family. As Akhtari does not have a ration card, she has to manage her entire household expenditure including medical expenses with the pension money. She feels that the pension amount is not sufficient according to the current market rate. Price rise is a major concern for old people like Akhtari who are completely dependent on government support. She demands that at least the pension amount should increase to Rs. 2,500 or Rs. 3000.
Regarding her struggle to get pension, Akhtari says that her association with the sisters of Mahila Pragati Manch has helped a lot. It had smoothed the process of availing the pension. The women from Mahila Pragati Manch helped her in submission of pension form and pursued it to till she availed her rights. But her concern is that even the time it took to get the pension through GRC is very long, about 18 months. She demands that one should get pension within six months of her/his submission of application.