Punjab to clear pension arrears, root out fake beneficiaries

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Punjab to clear pension arrears, root out fake beneficiaries

Chandigarh, Apr 3 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today directed officials to clear pension arrears till March 31 of existing 19.08 lakh beneficiaries and undertake detailed scrutiny to eliminate fake or undeserving candidates.

He also announced the government will put in place a new mechanism for verification of future applicants, and effect amendments in the eligibility criteria with effect from April 1, 2017.

The announcements followed a high-level review meeting of the Social Security Department chaired by the CM.

Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar, Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar were present at the meeting, among others.

It was also decided that all pensions be paid through banks from November this year in order to streamline the process, and to ensure timely and smooth payments, an official spokesperson said later.

Besides changes in the verification process for future beneficiaries, the meeting also agreed to carry out detailed scrutiny of the existing beneficiaries to root out the fake or undeserving ones.

The CM directed the department to ensure elimination of all such cases, irrespective of the political affiliations of the beneficiaries concerned.

“The genuine people should get the benefit of pension, notwithstanding their political affiliation,” the Chief Minister emphasized, pointing out that the previous SAD-BJP government “had deprived many beneficiaries of their due on account of their political ideology”.

As per the data on January 1, 2016, there are 19.08 lakh beneficiaries in old age, widows, handicapped and orphan kids categories, the spokesperson said.

Under the existing rules, a prospective beneficiary applies to the SDM, who directs release of provisional pension within three days. Verification is done later.

This, at times, results pension landing in wrong hands, which the department later finds difficult to retrieve, it was pointed out at the meeting.

Singh directed the Social Security department to work out modalities for the new eligibility criteria and verification system.

The meeting also discussed backlog of vacancies for the handicapped in various government departments.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.