CHENNAI: It has been eight months since S Rajeswari* received her monthly widow pension, something which was helping her lead a decent life since 2004. But apparently due to “funds shortage”, a section of people like her have allegedly not been paid the pension for the last several months.
Almost a unanimous view among the beneficiaries who repeatedly visit the Chepauk tahsildar office was that both the widow and old age pension had been put on the backburner since the death of the former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
To people like Rajeswari, the revenue department officials had apparently said the pension was not credited since the “government coffers are dry.”
When Express spoke to a few officials who supervise the scheme, they either said it’s due to shortage of funds or due to pending re-verification of the beneficiaries.
“Initially I was getting Rs 300. Then it was increased to Rs 500 and now Rs1,000. The sum may be small. But it ensures I don’t go hungry,” said Rajeswari, who had been visiting the Chepauk tahsildar office enquiring why the amount had not been credited to her account.
There are others like 74-year-old Kannamma* who were getting old age pension for almost nine years. The pension sum was a great source of support for her since the death of husband and sons in an accident. But, the last time the pension amount credited to her account was last December.
“I don’t have to bother my daughter and son-in-law if they pay me this pension,” she says. The sudden stoppage of the pension has compounded her worries.
“Since the death of Jayalalithaa we did not receive any money,” says 79-year-old Kasimuthu*, who works as a cobbler and has been receiving pension for last eight years.
However, a few others were given other options. “I was asked to give (as bribe) Rs 5,000 so that my file would move and I will again start getting the pension,” said Sumathi* who lost her husband four years ago.When queried by Express on the delay, Revenue Inspector Shankari, who supervises the old age pension scheme said, “We are conducting enquiries again to check if they really fit into the criteria for availing themselves of the pension.”
“A few did not provide proper address proof and so we have temporarily stopped payment to them,” says another revenue officer in the rank of deputy tahsildar.When Express discussed the issue with another senior revenue officer, the officer on condition of anonymity said, “We were told the funds are not available since there is shortage in government coffers.” He strongly denied that the pensions are being delayed by the staff for bribes.*names changed on request.