CHENNAI: A data purification exercise carried out by the Commissionerate of Social Security Scheme over the past three months has helped weed out names of nearly 1.73 lakh dead beneficiaries from various social security pension schemes saving the State’s exchequer nearly Rs 200 crore per year.
The revenue department has also suspended pensions of 6,147 people across the State and started verifying the details of 18,656 people who had failed to fulfil the criteria prescribed by the government. The exercise was carried out by matching social security records with Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency data.
Official sources said Aadhaar and other details were used to remove the names of 1,73,788 deceased people from the list of beneficiaries. N Venkatachalam, Commissioner of Social Security Scheme, said, "Unlike State and Union government pensioners and beneficiaries of government undertakings, we don't demand life certificates from people every year. The data purification work is a dynamic process and it will continue."
He said that elimination of ineligible beneficiaries from social security schemes is essential to support needy population. "Since May last year, we have included 3.5 lakh new beneficiaries under various pension schemes," he said.
Social security pensions are given to elderly people, disabled, widows, destitute women, landless agriculture labourers (uzhavar padhukappu thittam), unmarried women above the age of 50, and Sri Lankan refugees. As of May 31, 34,27,410 people were getting Rs 1,000 pension every month; Rs 345 crore was allocated for the scheme.
Several pensioners hold 2 cylinders
The process of weeding out ineligible beneficiaries is under way based on guidelines issued by the government in March according to which any person who sold or purchased property worth Rs 1 lakh and above, holds two LPG cylinders, is a pensioner of boards/governments, and lives in good economic condition will not be eligible for pension.
As per registration department data, 18,656 pensioners had made property transactions worth Rs 1 lakh and above. "We have decided not to cancel their pensions immediately. If a beneficiary had sold his or her property to repay debt, the person will still be eligible for a pension. Field verification by revenue inspectors is on. Action will be taken based on inspection reports," Venkatachalam said.
While pension was stopped for 630 people who were also receiving pensions from Tamil Nadu construction workers welfare board, benefits were stopped for 5,517 people living in better economic conditions. Electricity bill and electronic devices are used as indicators for determining their living conditions.
Surprisingly, as per records, several pensioners in Tamil Nadu also hold two cylinders. "It is possible that beneficiaries may not be using them or someone else may be using the cylinders purchased in their names. We haven't taken a decision yet on cancelling such pensions. Field verification will be conducted," Venkatachalam said.
Under National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), the Centre contributes Rs 200 to Rs 500 per beneficiary for old-age pension scheme, Rs 300 for PwDs, and Rs 300 for widows. Rest of the expense is borne by the State. Six other schemes are entirely funded by the State government.