It may not be a huge amount, but the sum of Rs 250 per month that the social security department of Punjab has to pay its old age pensioners is still eagerly awaited. It has now been six months since the pension has reached the beneficiaries.
The 14.4 lakh beneficiaries were recently paid the pension due for the months of January and February 2013.
While the department officers say there is an average lag of two months in payment of the old-age pension and everyone has been paid till the month of June this year, the beneficiaries claim that the payment since March is yet to be made.
Punjab has 21.55 lakh beneficiaries of various financial assistance schemes, including pension to widows and physically challenged. Out of the total allocation of Rs 718 crore for these beneficiaries, only Rs 298 crore has been released by the government to the department till now.
The largest chunk of such beneficiaries is of old-age pensioners and sources said that bills worth Rs 108 crore are pending to be cleared — the delay largely due to a financial crunch in the state.
“There is a two-month gap in the payment of the old-age pensions. This is mainly due to the fact that every month new beneficiaries are added or removed. The update takes a long time. We have paid the pensioners upto the month of June and the pensions are pending for July and August,” director, social security, Gurkirat Kirpal Singh said.
The villagers, however, disagree. “We disbursed Rs 500 per beneficiary for the months of January and February some weeks ago. The rest is still awaited,” said Hardeep Singh, sarpanch of village Khizrabad.
Also, the government seems in no mood to increase the pension amount. It is fixed at Rs 250 per month since April 2006, when it was Rs 200. The SAD election manifesto had talked about increasing the amount but nothing was done. “We have made a proposal for increase in the amount, but we are yet to receive a response,” said Gurkirat Kirpal Singh.