KOCHI: Councillors stood on the floor during the Kochi Corporation Council meeting on Saturday, demanding urgent steps to clear the pension files that have been dogged by red tape. They were seen waving a report published by ‘Express’ on the inordinate delay in disbursing pension.
The ‘City Express’ in the report published on Monday had exposed how the hopes of 573 pension seekers at Palluruthy, most of whom senior citizens or bed-ridden patients, were snuffed out by ‘red tapism’ and negligence.
Based on the report, the Kerala State Legal Services Authority (KELSA) had swung into action on the heaps of pension files, which had been lying in a corner of the zonal office, gathering dust for more than two years. As soon as the council meeting began, the councillors kick-started a discussion on the pending pension files, based on the news report.
Councillor Mumtaz Teacher stood up and flashed a copy of ‘City Express’, demanding that the matter be resolved quickly. Subsequently, Mayor Tony Chammany assured that steps would be taken to speed track pension disbursal. However, no word was said about taking action against the officers who sat upon the files for such a long time.
“The files were kept pending inordinately due to various reasons, including a surge in applications and staff shortage. However, the files will be cleared soon,” said the Mayor.
“More staffers will be deployed at the pension cell to overcome the staff shortage. If needed, the additional service of a Revenue Inspector would be made available at Palluruthy,” said Mayor Chammany.
Welfare Standing Committee chairperson Essy Joseph admitted that the files were delayed for a long time, and cited the election duty of the officers as a reason for the delay.
Mumtaz Teacher and the other councillors, Sunil Kumar, Sreejith, Joji and Mahesh Kumar also spoke at the meeting.
Mayor vs Magistrate
The Mayor and a section of the councillors curtly attacked the judiciary for intervening in matters that fall under the purview of the local body. The Mayor was provoked by the inspection carried out by the KELSA, based on the report published in ‘City Express’, which paved the way for a directive asking the local body to clear the pension files before December 6.
“The judiciary should clear the backlog of files in the courts before setting deadlines for the Corporation,” said the Mayor.
He went on to say that the staffers at the Magistrate’s office should have taken permission from the Corporation secretary before carrying out the inspection at the zonal office.