He was the face of 2,500-odd pensioners of the Punjab Agricultural University. Since September 2007,university pensioners have been getting what is due to them in fits and breaks and to a large an extent,N K Pillai made it possible.
Pillai sought voluntary retirement from the PAU in 2000 while he was posted as a senior pharmacist. In 2006,when an instalment of dearness allowance and other similar benefits was not given to pensioners,I shot off a letter to then V-C Dr K S Aulakh. When I met Dr Aulakh,he told me that PAU would not be able to pay pensions in the coming months as the pension fund had depleted.
This prompted Pillai to form the PAU Pensioner Welfare Association,which soon turned into a confederation when he approached and successfully convinced the pension associations of the PAU teachers and supervisory staff to join them. We could put up a struggle together as after all,our aim was the same, explains Pillai.
When a person does not get pension,the entire monetary imbalance takes a toll on his life. In the last one month alone,we have seen deaths of at least 10 pensioners. No doubt these people were old but the inability to buy medicine in old age leads to fast deterioration of their health, he fumes.
The PAU has been taking pension fund as budgetary allocation to the state government for the past five years but the government is not giving any funds to the university. All that the state government is doing is giving PAU just enough money so that it can continue paying the salaries. The worst was when the state government announced that pensioners are not its responsibility and in May 2008,we were forced to knock the doors of the HC. We have full faith in the judiciary which will surely help us pensioners out. The HC has presently ordered the PAU and the state government to clear all the dues of the pensioners by March 31.