New norms disqualify eligible pensioners

  • Fresh applications lead to confusion
  • New norms cheat old pensioners
  • Noise in Legislature
  • CM Rao defends the procedure adopted by govt.

(P Ravi)

Hyderabad, November 19: Even as the government of Telangana had identified 24.21 lakh eligible persons for social security pension and claims that Rs 3,350 crore will be spent on the pension, much higher than the Rs 833 crore spent by the previous government of undivided Andhra Pradesh; the new norms are leading to confusion and dissatisfaction.

At the outset, the directive from the government stated that the pensioners need to submit their Aadhaar card number and application form within a set deadline. This subjected the elderly to stress as they lined up for submitting fresh applications. And the fact that the household survey was held for exactly the same reason did leave a bad taste amongst the pensioners. Further, the new norms including the one that gives eligibility for applying to either husband or wife if both of them are alive and are above 65 years; beats logic. Two mouths to feed will require twice that much amount.

Moreover, when the state government employees retire at 58 and become automatically eligible for pension; how was the eligibility for Aasara decided at 65. The death of a 75-year-old man, who did not find his name in the Aasara list, and his wife who died of shock in Mahabubnagar district, is just an example of how misplaced priorities in the pension scheme will affect the poor.

Quoting the incident, former Congress minister DK Aruna criticised Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao for not implementing the pension scheme effectively and ignoring the deserving persons.

Earlier in the day, making a statement in the Legislative Assembly on the scheme, the Chief Minister said the government, as part of its welfare measures and social safety net strategy, introduced Aasara (meaning support) to ensure a “secure life with dignity” for all the poor.

“Aasara is meant to protect the most vulnerable sections of society, in particular the old and the infirm, people with HIV-AIDS, widows, incapacitated weavers and toddy tappers, in order to support their day-to-day minimum needs to lead a life of dignity and social security,” the Chief Minister said.

“With a view to combating  the ever-increasing cost of living and inflation, the government has enhanced the monthly pension from Rs 200 to Rs 1000 for old-age persons, widows, weavers, toddy tappers and HIV-AIDS patients.

It was increased from Rs 500 to Rs 1500 for disabled persons,” Chandrasekhara Rao added.

The Chief Minister said 39.63 lakh applications were received for sanction of pensions in all the 10 districts of the state.”Government officers have taken up thorough verification of eligible persons for sanction of Aasara pensions under different categories. The process of verification and sanction of fresh pensions is still in progress.” He added.

The Chief Minister also announced that a detailed discussion on the subject would be taken up in the Assembly on Thursday. Earlier in the day, the House was adjourned for 10 minutes after Congress legislators came into the Well, demanding a discussion on the distribution of pensions through an adjournment motion. The Chief Minister made the statement after the House re-assembled.

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