NEW DELHI: A large number of the retired Indian Army Soldiers did not get their pensions for the month of April with the problem attributed to the delay in submission of Life Certificate.
On Wednesday an assurance was given by the Ministry of Defence to credit the due pensions into their accounts to affected 58,275 pensioners by Wednesday.
The Ministry of Defence in its statement on Wednesday said, "The pension for the month of April 2022 has now been processed and pension is due to be credited by end-of-day on May 04, 2022. All such pensioners are being informed about pending annual identification through SMS and email."
All pensioners must complete annual identification in order to continue receipt of monthly pension, which is usually done in the month of November 2021 by all banks acting as Pension Disbursing Agencies. Due to the COVID situation, Government had extended the window for annual identification due on November 30, 2021 upto March 31, 2022, MoD added.
"The banks (the previous Pension Disbursing Agency) could not confirm identification for 58,275 pensioners and neither was their identification received directly on SPARSH by the time of monthly closing. Hence, these pensioners were not paid their April pension by April 30, 2022," MoD said.
A one-time special waiver has been accorded to these 58,275 pensioners to get their identification done by May 25, 2022.
However, the soldiers TNIE spoke to denied any intimation from the authorities to resubmit the Life Certificate.
"The Life Certificate was submitted on time in November. Had they asked us, we would have submitted it again," told a Lieutenant General but did not wish to be named.
There had been issues since two or three months but it has got highlighted as the numbers of soldiers deprived of their pension is quite large this time, he added.
"Indian Army’s pensioners are spread across the country and mostly into the rural areas. Among them a large number are widows who can hardly operate smart phones or computers thus it needs special attention for them to use the online system," said another senior officer.
The online system was adopted to save Rs 260 crores which was given to the banks as service charges, but there were bank managers and also some veterans serving as advisors to the banks at various senior levels to resolve issues, added the second officer.
There are around 3.3 million total pensioners out of which over five lakh were getting their pensions disbursed through System for Pension Administration (Raksha) (SPARSH) as an initiative of the Ministry of Defence envisaged providing a comprehensive solution to the administration of pension to the defence pensioners.
The problem was faced by those veterans who retired post January 2016 and had moved to a new system. A total of 4.47 lakh had migrated from legacy system to SPARSH (post 01.01.2016 retirees) upto March 31, 2022. During the processing of pension for the month of April 2022, as per MoD, annual identification of around 3.3 lakh pensioners was not updated.
A list was shared with all Pension Disbursing Banks to share updated identification data, if any, and as a result identification status of more than 2.65 lakh pensioners was updated on SPARSH by April 25, 2022 leading to successful processing of pension for all these pensioners, the MoD clarified.
The MoD, including the Defence Accounts Department, is undergoing a major transformation with an aim to bring transparency and efficiency in various processes and procedures. With the broader agenda of digitisation and modernisation of legacy systems, the MoD said.