NEW DELHI: For the sake of the cash-strapped Indian Railways, senior citizens are sacrificing the fare concessions they are entitled to. More than 32 lakh senior citizens decided not to avail fare concessions between July 2017 and June this year following an appeal by the Ministry of Railway to ease the transporter’s subsidy burden. The ‘Give Up’ scheme was launched on July 22 last year.
Senior citizens who book tickets online are offered three options: 100 per cent concession, 50 per cent concession and no concession.Data provided under RTI by the ministry shows 32.12 lakh senior citizens had given up fare concessions till June 2018, which made the railways richer by Rs 55.12 crore.
The railways offers 53 concessions under various categories such as differently-abled people, students, defence personnel etc. The total subsidy burden amounts to Rs1,800 crore annually, with the highest Rs1,300 crore being on account of concessions offered to senior citizens.The railways does not maintain data of passengers opting for full-fare tickets in other 52 concession categories.
“I do not avail the senior citizen concession as I can afford the full fare. I am of the opinion that the foregone subsidy can be used by the government to help people who actually need it,” said Gireesh Banakar, a retired Central government employee. Men above 60 years of age and women above 58 are given 40% and 50% concessions, respectively, on the base fare.