The criteria for receiving pension has been changing over the years along with the amount of money being received as the pension.
The District Welfare Office on Tuesday issued notices to 23 women in Barwala, who were deriving pensions under the old age samman allowance scheme, for recovery of the total amount received by the beneficiaries along with a 12 per cent interest.
The development comes more than a month after their accounts were frozen as their husbands, working in government organisations, were deriving pensions.
The notice issued to these women, some of whom have been deriving pensions since 2008, read, “As you have been informed before, your husbands who were working in government organisations are deriving pensions. Your annual income does not fall under the set bracket wherein such allowance can only be received by senior citizens with income less than 2 lakh. Thus, we intimate you to either clarify your husbands’ income slab within a week or if your annual income is greater than 2 lakh, submit the amount received uptil now under the scheme at our office with 12 per cent interest rate immediately or else action as per the rules would be taken against you.”
The criteria for receiving pension has been changing over the years along with the amount of money being received as the pension. Before 2011, pensions were given to senior citizens with an annual income of Rs 10,000 or less. But the criteria was changed to people with annual income of Rs 50,000 or less in 2011.
In 2014, the annual income limit was changed to Rs 2 lakh. Pension amount in 2008 was Rs 300 per month which had increased to Rs 2,000 per month in 2019 and is further set to increase to Rs 2,250 per month by February.
Of the 23 women, as many as six had been receiving the pension amount since January 1, 2008 and have received Rs 1.41 lakh.
“Such beneficiaries will have to submit the principal amount along with an interest rate of 12 per cent”, said District Social Welfare Officer, Vishal Saini.
“Though it is the work of sarpanches to make us aware, that rarely happens. An individual had approached us informing about one such family. Following this, we decided to investigate the other cases as well. It was a difficult job as the people receiving the pensions had not availed the scheme in their name and rather in their spouses’ name. So we could not directly match the names against records of government employees,” he added.
When asked about other such beneficiaries, he said, “We have limited manpower, but we have been investigating cases. A number of such defaulters have been identified in Jaloli as well as Karanpur villages. We have frozen their accounts as well and will soon be sending them notices.”
The rising number of default cases who have been availing state schemes is due to the “self-declaration” policy of income by the government, officials said.
“How can we check the amount of their incomes? You either ask for all documents or remove the Rs 2 lakh per annum policy as anybody can avail the scheme declaring anything they wish to. But, in such cases, where the amount is being received wrongly comes to public knowledge we are the ones who get blamed,” said another officer, on condition of anonymity.
Action against people who fail to give back the recoveries can be taken by either getting FIRs registered against them or under the land revenue act where in the deputy commissioner can intimidate authorities to seize the pensioner’s land and properties.
Pension allegations in Raipur Rani
Meanwhile in Raipur Rani, pensions were being sent to 17 accounts belonging to people who have died. However, their families have denied collecting them. The incident came to light last week. The district social welfare officer has issued show cause notices to the post offices and one cooperative bank, that were incharge of distributing these pensions, to submit replies by January 20.
“Our work is only to sanction the pensions. The amount then directly goes to the bank accounts of these people. It is the post offices or a bank’s job to inform us if the pensioner has not withdrawn the amount for more than three months after which we look into the matter,” he said.