New Delhi: In an effort to keep the promises made to people, the Union Government has decided to extend the benefits of Old Age Pension Scheme (OAPS).

The Union Cabinet has announced to lower the age limit of OAPS to 60 year. The Cabinet has also approved to increase the pension to Rs 500 per month to people about 80 years and living under Below Poverty Line.

The Centre has decided to bring the Bidi workers under the Rastriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY). This scheme is effective from April 1, 2011. After the meeting, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Ambika Soni said the lowering of age will benefit an additional 72 lakh people in the age group of 60-64 years.

It is worth mentioning that Finance Minsiter Pranab Mukherjee had announced this scheme during the budget session in 2011-12. As of now, about 1.69 crore people aged above 65 years living under BPL are beneficiaries of the scheme.

After this amendment, people in age group of 40-59 will be entitled for getting Indira Gandhi Widow Pension Scheme, whereas under the Indira Gandhi Disability Pension scheme the age group will be between 18 and 59 years.

Government sources said the revised Old Age Scheme will lead to an additional expenditure of over Rs 2700 crore.
The families of 50 lakh identified bidi workers will get the benefit of health insurance of Rs 30,000.

Union Minister for Labour, Mallika Arjun Khadge said under this scheme, the Centre will bear the 75 percent of annual premium of Rs 750 for every bidi workers and remaining 25 percent will be funded by the state governments.

Khadge added, the concerned Welfare Commissioner will make the payment of health claim worth Rs 30,000 or above. Bidi workers will be provided for smart cards, while they will have access of getting treatment at Employees’ State Insurance Hospitals (ESI). The project will cost over Rs 311 crore.

JPN/Bureau