THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as protest mounts from various corners over the exclusion of social security pensioners terming them ineligible, undeserving and even dead, the state government is fast rectifying the anomalies. Exclusion of around 14,000 names who were marked ‘dead’ had kicked up a row. They included those drawing welfare, disabled, widow and old-age pensions.
The past few weeks witnessed scores of living persons who were marked dead staging a sit-in in front of local self-government offices. In July this year, the government had withheld the pension of about 80,000 beneficiaries who were found ineligible in a scrutiny done with the help of databases maintained
by other government departments.
This included 64,473 people who owned luxury vehicles. Names of 14,000 persons who died, were also removed. Some others were widow pensioners who continued to receive the amount after remarriage and IT payees. BJP district president S Suresh said about 2,000 eligible persons were denied welfare pensions in Thiruvananthapuram alone.
They included several living persons who were marked dead. Similar issues were reported from local self-governments across the state. “Many poor people were termed ineligible by the government. They were erroneously portrayed as people drawing two pensions or owning two-storeyed buildings or AC cars. This shows the LDF government is against the financially-backward class,” he said.
The Finance Minister’s Office said complaints of over 4,000 persons against exclusion were found genuine and they were re-inducted. This included about 700 persons who were wrongly marked as dead. “The pruning exercise was a success since only less than 10 per cent of excluded persons challenged it. This helped in saving Rs 8.36 crore a month. We could also add 1.25 lakh new beneficiaries after this,” said a top official.
The last date for submitting complaints to the local self- governments is September 30. The new list will be ready by October 10. At present, 42 lakh persons draw social security pensions in five categories.
The beneficiaries draw pension under five categories - old age, disability, unmarried women aged above 50, agricultural labourers and widow or destitute. The government spends `580 crore a month towards social security pension.