Elders ‘in deep waters’ seek hike in pension

Hundreds of elderly persons including widows, physically-challenged and social activists on Friday launched Jal Satyagraha in Alaka river at Tigiria village within Balikuda police limits seeking a hike in pension. They also demanded pension to thousands of beneficiaries who have been left out in the district.

Published: 16th September 2017 03:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2017 07:23 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

JAGATSINGHPUR:Hundreds of elderly persons including widows, physically-challenged and social activists on Friday launched Jal Satyagraha in Alaka river at Tigiria village within Balikuda police limits seeking a hike in pension. They also demanded pension to thousands of beneficiaries who have been left out in the district.

Though the State Government has increased the salary of its employees, MLAs and Ministers, it is yet to effect a hike in pension for the old and infirm, widows and physically-disabled persons. “Therefore, we have launched the Jal Satyagraha demanding a hike in pension from Rs 300 to Rs 2,000 per month,” said panchayat samiti member Subhendu Bhol. The agitators also sought the intervention of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in this regard.

Sources said thousands of beneficiaries are living in miserable condition as they are unable to sustain themselves with the meagre pension amount that is being provided by the Government. With prices of essential commodities sky-rocketing, they are finding it difficult to fend for themselves with the paltry amount of Rs 300.

While beneficiaries in Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Delhi are getting an amount of Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 per month, Odisha Government is yet to effect a hike in old age pension, they said.Now, senior citizens in the age group of 60-80 are receiving Rs 300 under both National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) of the Centre and Madhu Babu Pension Yojana of the State Government. After the age of 80, beneficiaries are eligible to get Rs 500 as pension under these two schemes.

Moreover, thousands of elderly, widows and disabled persons have been left out of the pension scheme in the district. Assistance is being provided to beneficiaries who are able to bribe the officials while others have been left out, alleged an agitator.Surprisingly, many beneficiaries in the age group of 65 to 70 have been left out while others, who are only 60 years old, are receiving the old age pension. This apart, upon the death of a beneficiary, his widow is entitled to get the pension.

However, many widows have been deprived of the monetary assistance due to negligence of block officials. Official sources said 43,543 beneficiaries are receiving pension of Rs 300 under NSAP while 60,972 are being provided assistance under Madhu Babu Pension Yojana.Similarly,  6,180 beneficiaries above 80 years of age are getting Rs 500 under Madhu Babu Pension scheme and 3,303 under NSAP.

District Social Security Officer Harendra Kumar Dehuri admitted that nearly 12,446 beneficiaries are yet to get their pension as the Government has not set a specific target. In case a beneficiary dies in a panchayat, another elderly person of the area is brought under the fold of pension scheme, he added.

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