Possible data breach worries as government launches online Armed Forces pension disbursal portal

It is envisaged to ensure the right payment to the right pensioner at the right time through digital processing of more than 30 lakh pensioners.
For representational purposes (File | ANI)
For representational purposes (File | ANI)

NEW DELHI: In its bid to facilitate and ease the pension issues of the veterans of the Army, Navy and Air Force an online Centralised Pension Disbursement System (CPDS) named as System for Pension Administration Raksha (SPARSH) has been formulated by the government. But, the Army is worried about its data breach and the difficulties which the veterans in far-flung areas may face. 

An official told, “Security of data of serving personnel as well as pensioners being hosted on the internet server is susceptible to data leakage and may lead to targeting of serving and retired persons by the inimical intelligence and cybercrime agencies.”

The pilot rollout of project SPARSH has been planned at six records offices across the country but is yet to be implemented due to certain security concerns and functional issues. It is envisaged to facilitate all aspects of the pension process starting from the initiation of claims, disbursement, and grievance redressal mechanism through single-source i.e., PCDA (Pension), Allahabad and banks will no more be the Pension Distribution Agency (PDA). 

The need for SPARSH was felt to obviate and address the current challenges in the pension sanctioning and disbursement process such as decentralized solutions existing in silos, manual intervention in processing, lack of centralized information for addressing pensioner queries etc. It is envisaged to ensure the right payment to the right pensioner at the right time through digital processing of more than 30 lakh pensioners. Of the pensioners, officers are only three percent of the total and the important point is that 90 percent of them are the Havaldar and below which leads to its own set of problems. 

Speaking on the issue Brigadier Kartar Singh (Retd), President of Indian Ex-Servicemen League (IESL) said, “The initiative by the Ministry of Defence is well-intentioned but does not cater for very old age pensioners who are dependent on banks as their disbursing authorities. A lot of veteran officers and soldiers also live in remote areas such as North East and Nepal where there are lot of issues of internet connectivity and inaccessibility of some government schemes.” They should not suffer due to the implementation of this scheme, added Brig Kartar. 

As a solution, “I feel that the banks must continue to be part of the grievance redressal mechanism. Since centralisation and digitisation may hinder veterans who are not so computer or tech-savvy, I feel that the new system should be applied to new pensioners and should run as a pilot program for a minimum of two years, both to observe its success and giving time for veterans to adjust to the new scheme” added Brig Singh.

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