THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Officially, their war ended more than seven decades ago. But their individual battle for a life of peace and comfort went on.
Until now, that is. Thanks to a recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence (PSCD), over 300 surviving World War II veterans in the state are looking at better living prospects in their old ages.
The LDF Government has in-principle decided to enhance the monthly financial assistance given to WWII veterans and widows of veterans to `6,000 from the current `4,000. A proposal in this regard was prepared by the Sainik Welfare Department. The Cabinet is expected to take up the matter soon.“The PSCD looked at the assistance provided by all states and UTs and decided the present assistance provided by Kerala was inadequate,” said Sumana Menon, secretary, Sainik Welfare.
Fighting in the British Indian Army, Indian soldiers fought with distinction in WWII which lasted from 1939 to 1945.
As per the Sainik Welfare Department, the number of WWII veterans is fast dwindling in the state with just 334 veterans and close to 1,541 widows surviving.
A table prepared by PSCD (16th Lok Sabha) has revealed the average age of WWII veterans in Kerala is 92-95 years, among the highest in the country. The assistance Kerala currently pays the veterans is neither high nor low in comparison to other states.
The states Manipur and Mizoram and the union territory Andaman and Nicobar Islands gave the veterans and the widows a financial assistance of `1,200 per month, which is the lowest. The union territory Chandigarh gave the veterans and the widows the highest sum of `7,500, said the PSCD, which recommended each veteran awardee be provided `6,000 to `10,000 to help them sustain themselves in old age.
Following the PSCD recommendation, the Secretary, Ex-Servicemen Welfare, asked states and UTs to hike the assistance to the said amount, and, in no case, less than `3000.