Thousands still await welfare pensions due to issues in mustering process

PP Nazar Kodur

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Representative Image | Photo: REUTERS

Malappuram: The mustering process meant for authenticating individuals receiving welfare pensions through biometrics is not happening leaving thousands devoid of the benefit.

The government order which directs mustering based on biometric mechanism was issued in the year 2019 and the life certificate submission was through Akshaya Centres. Notably, five months even before issuing the order, pensions of the individuals were withheld citing incomplete mustering. As a result, lakhs of individuals have not received welfare pensions for 27 months. Each of them is eligible to get around Rs 50,000, if the dues are calculated.

Meanwhile, individuals who have applied for welfare pensions recently during this period, also did not receive pension. The officials said the non-payment was due to the ongoing mustering process. Strangely, those who applied for the welfare pensions after that period availed the benefit.

According to the Kerala finance ministry in response to an RTI application filed by Machingal Muhammad, a former representative of Kodur grama panchayat, welfare pensions of 1,97,018 individuals have been withheld by the government due to non-completion of mustering process. In response to the query, the ministry disclosed that 49,01,658 individuals are receiving pensions regularly after the completion of the mustering process. The reply also stated that the government is mulling over giving one more opportunity to complete the mustering.

The table below shows bifurcated data on welfare pensions*:

Type of welfare pension Number of individuals to whom pension is distributed Withheld cases
Old Age Pension26,81,261 1,12,191
Agriculture Labour Pension3,99,244 26,669
Widow Pension13,39,589 40,558
Pension to Unmarried Women Above 50 years84,819 2,420
Differently-abled pension3,96,745 15,180
*Apart from the listed, pensions distributed through various welfare boards and farmers' pension distributed though agricultutal department have been withheld.

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