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Sunday, December 27, 2015

No welfare pension this festival too

Beneficiaries visiting government offices hoping for pension disbursal

Around festival seasons, during Onam and Christmas, the city Corporation office here witnesses a rush of beneficiaries of various welfare pensions.

In the past years, it was during this season that the perpetually delayed pensions were disbursed by the local body.

But, since last Christmas, those expecting the benefits have all gone back in disappointment. This Christmas has been no different, with pension payments pending from as far back as November 2014. Except the pension for agricultural labourers, disbursal of all the other welfare pensions have been stalled, as the required funds are yet to come from the government.

The government had promised to distribute Rs.700 crore as welfare pensions before last Onam. But due to issues at the Postal Department, the amount has not been disbursed.

According to the officials here, some of the beneficiaries visit the offices several times a week, in hope of the pension being disbursed.

No pension for 14 months

“There are several people who have not got pensions for the past 14 months. We have been told that the government will disburse the amount after Christmas,” says Welfare Committee Chairperson Geetha Gopal.

The issue of delay in welfare pensions had caused some major ruckus at a meeting towards the fag end of the last council’s term.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) councillors had then blamed the CPI (M), the ruling party of the Corporation, for the delay.

The ruling party has maintained that the undue delay has been due to the shift to the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system from the old money order system for pension disbursal.

Out of the total of 48,700 people who are being provided pensions by the Corporation, 32,000 have registered for pensions through DBT with their Aadhaar numbers. Among the rest, many are bedridden and hence do not have Aadhaar cards.

Money Order system

The Corporation had then asked the government to facilitate pension distribution through the money order system so that people do not miss out.

The shift to DBT has but helped the local body to identify those who are drawing more than one welfare pension.

Those who want to continue with the money order system should provide a medical certificate proving that they are bedridden and are not in a position to apply for Aadhaar cards. Also, they have to get a recommendation letter from the respective councillor.

Despite government claims of Aadhaar not being mandatory, the above condition effectively makes it so for beneficiaries who are hale and healthy.

The welfare pensions consist of those for widows, old age, differently abled persons, agricultural labourers, and unmarried persons above 50 years.

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