Welfare pension list to be cleaned up

Welfare pensioners who are availing themselves of more than one pension will soon be weeded out of the list to include the maximum number of beneficiaries in the universal pension scheme from 3.5 lakh applications pending before the government.

Duplication of beneficiaries has been a menace the government has been trying to battle all along and hence the move to whittle down the list.

The move assumes significance in the wake of the government bid to extend the universal pension scheme to all senior citizens so that none would be left without an income in the fag end of their life.

Process initiated

Official sources told
The Hindu
here that already a process has been initiated to clean up the list and check the drain on the State’s finances by linking welfare pensioners with their unique identity card and ration cards.

Still, it was found that a more meticulous scrutiny was imperative for ensuring that the benefit was not being pocketed by ineligible and hence a decision has been made to conduct physical verification soon.

Mahila Pradahan agents would be engaged to call on each beneficiary to verify their credentials, including their annual income, living standards, and volume of duplication.

They would prepare a list and it would be scrutinised by the panchayats, sources said.

The State currently has about 50 lakh welfare pensioners and the government had expended about Rs. 2,500 crore to foot the pension bill during the Onam season last year. Arrears are being systematically cleared and pensions are being disbursed through cooperative societies and banks so that it would reach the target groups such as widows, spinsters, differently-abled, farm labourers, workers in the unorganised sectors and such others in time.

Hike for pensioners

Moreover, the government had ordered a Rs. 100 annual hike for all pensions.

All these steps have had a salutary effect and the pensions have become too attractive.

Local bodies that were entrusted with the task of enrolment to the schemes for various categories had used it for political gains and that is being cited as one of the prime reason for the duplication of beneficiaries.

The verification process may not be completed before the ensuing Onam season, but the ineligible would be weeded out at least before the festival season in 2019, sources said.

The move assumes significance in the wake of the government bid to extend the universal pension scheme to all senior citizens.

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