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Concessions still suspended, about four crore elderly people traveled by rail by paying full fare from March 2020 – concessions still suspended since march 2020, about four crore elderly people traveled by rail by paying full fare.

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Concessions still suspended, about four crore elderly people traveled by rail by paying full fare from March 2020 – concessions still suspended since march 2020, about four crore elderly people traveled by rail by paying full fare.

(Ananya Sengupta)

New Delhi, Nov 21 (PTI) Nearly four crore senior citizens have had to pay full fare for their journeys since the railways suspended concessions in March 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak. This has come to the fore in the information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

In response to a question asked by Chandrashekhar Gaur, a resident of Madhya Pradesh, the Railways said that 3,78,50,668 senior citizens traveled in trains between 22 March 2020 and September 2021. During this period, train services remained suspended for several months in view of the enforced lockdown due to Corona virus. The concessions that have been postponed since March 2020 remain suspended till date.

In case of senior citizens, women are eligible for 50 per cent concession, while men can avail 40 per cent concession. The minimum age limit in this category is 58 for females and 60 years for males.

Senior citizen Tapas Bhattacharya, who is gearing up to travel to Kolkata next week, said, “The concession we were given was very important and it is like a huge help to those who cannot afford it. Senior citizens are treated as an additional member in many households, with no income of their own. These concessions help them in commuting anywhere. Concessions given to senior citizens should be restored along with regular train services. Most of the elderly cannot pay the full rent.

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In the last two decades, there has been a lot of discussion on the concessions given by the Railways, with several committees recommending their withdrawal. As a result, in July 2016, the Railways made the concession given to the elderly optional at the time of booking tickets. In July 2017, the Railways also launched a scheme for ‘Leave Concession’ option for the elderly.

In a letter last month, Madurai MP S. Venkatesan urged the Railway Minister to restore the concessions given to passengers for rail travel, saying it is necessary for the elderly in a country where 20 per cent of the people live below the poverty line.

According to a 2019 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), the response to the ‘Give It Up’ scheme from senior citizen travelers was not very encouraging. The report said that out of the total 4.41 crore senior citizen passengers, 7.53 lakh (1.7 per cent) passengers opted to forgo 50 per cent concession and 10.9 lakh (2.47 per cent) passengers gave up 100 per cent concession.

In the last ten days, the Railways has restored some of its services, which it had suspended in view of the Corona virus crisis. This also includes removing the “special” tag from trains. This has led to a reduction in ticket prices. The service of serving hot cooked food in trains has also been resumed. However, the decision to restore the concessions and make bedrolls available is still pending.

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