BENGALURU: Sixty-two-year-old Siddamma, residing in one of the slums on Magadi Road, depends on the generosity of others in order to make ends meet. For the past few years, she has stopped working as a domestic help due to the worsening swelling in her hands. She lost her husband two decades ago and she has struggled to eke out a living since then. On someone’ s suggestion, she applied for the widow pension last year.
“But all my hopes were dashed when the application was rejected recently on grounds that I had two grown-up sons. My sons are not even alive. They passed away years ago. I wonder why officials do not conduct a physical verification before cancelling anyone’s pension,” says Siddamma with worries writ large on her face. She had submitted her application to ‘Nadakacheri’ (deputy tahasildar’s office) with the help of Centre for Advocacy and Research(CFAR)’s single window system ‘Sahaya.’
“The monthly pension amount of Rs 600 would have taken care of my house rent. I hope I will get my pension sometime soon,” she adds. “The owner had twice locked her house for not paying the rent,” informs K Radha of CFAR. She was one of the many elderly women whose plight came to the fore at the Pension Parishat organised at Jain University by the CFAR on Thursday.
For ragpicker Anjali, who has been cured of leprosy, each day is a survival against odds. She had submitted an application for old age pension. Nearly 50 days later, officials rejected her application for want of Aadhar card. Anjali had lost all her fingers due to leprosy.CFAR Programme Manager Prabhanand Hegde told The New Indian Express that three out of 10 families of poor and widows in Bengaluru are not covered under any pension schemes.
PUNISHED FOR FILING APPLICATION LATE
An HIV-positive woman could not believe her ears when asked to file an affidavit from the notary citing reasons on why she had not applied for widow pension in the past 18 years. “When my husband died in 2000, I was just 19 years old. My application for widow pension was rejected nearly four times by officials who insisted that I remarry as I was young,’’ she said. “The pension amount would have helped me get nutritious meals,” she added.
NOT POOR IF PENSION MONEY IS UNSPENT
53 year-old Vijayakumari from Rajajinagar, a widow, was shocked on being informed that her pension was cancelled. “I fought back tears when officers in the directorate of social security and pension told me that if the money deposited in bank is not collected within two months, it will be withdrawn with an understanding that beneficiary is not poor and thus not entitled for any pension,’’ Vijayakumari told TNIE.
Reasons for pension delay
l Lack of awareness about schemes
l Lack of BPL cards
l No uniformity in document checklist
l Only one counter, no separate queue for elderly people
l Conduct surveys in slum to identify beneficiaries
l Plan alternative procedures to issue income certificates
l Ensure that Deputy Tahasildars organise pension adalat every month