Monday, April 15, 2024

85-yr-old woman stops receiving pension after being declared ‘dead’ on paper

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Eighty-five-year-old Gattu Devi who lives in a village in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district with her family was in for a shock when she learnt that her widow pension was stopped by the government declaring that she was dead.

A resident of Banjari village under Todgarh tehsil, the grandmother of three received her last pension of Rs 1,500 in February 2022, which too she discovered recently.

“We did not check the account as we thought the pension was being deposited regularly for the past many years. I went to the panchayat samiti and realised that my mother was declared dead and pension was stopped in February last year,” Chunnilal Regar, Gattu Devi’s son said.

The authorities of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment have initiated an inquiry to ascertain the loophole that led to the mistake. In the meantime, the department has verified Gattu Devi’s identity and said her pension along with the arrears will be released next month. According to officials, the octogenarian was declared dead by the panchayat samiti without verification.

To declare someone dead, the panchayat requires a death certificate without which it is impossible to update the system. However, my mother’s name was not even present in the list of dead persons, said Regar.

Gattu Devi, accompanied by her son, also visited the e-Mitra centre for biometric identification with a fractured leg, but to no avail.

“We went to the centre three-four times. However her finger prints could not be taken due to old age,” her son said.

The issue was resolved after it came to the notice of authorities.

” The matter has come to our notice. Why would the department declare someone dead? There must be some technical error. We will get the matter checked. We have also sent a person to the beneficiary’s residence for verification, which has been completed. The pension will be resumed from next month and arrears will also be deposited,” said Hari Mohan Meena, Director of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment.

The authorities also pointed out that the verification process is carried out by field workers, which is subject to inquiry.

This process contains three layers which takes time, after the completion of which the pension and arrears are released.

According to authorities, the department has also started self-verification through a mobile application through which anyone, including the elderly and disabled, can get themselves verified while sitting at home. The step has been taken considering the problems that came to notice for getting biometric verification done.

After learning about Gattu Devi’s case, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Department Tika Ram Jully instructed his officer on special duty to take necessary steps and start the pension immediately after taking complete information about the account.

Minister’s action was called for as the state government is holding inflation relief camps where the government is providing information and benefits of its 10 ambitious schemes, including pensions, for various kinds of beneficiaries.

The inquiry revealed that the verification was pending due to an amendment in Jan Aadhar Card (ID for the citizens of Rajasthan) by the pensioners in April 2023. The Jan Aadhar team has been asked to complete the verification work at the earliest. After which, the department has activated the pension account and from next month, the pension will be resumed. The arrears will also be added to the sum.

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