The Yogi Adityanath government has stopped the monthly pension of Rs 50,000 that was being paid to Yash Bharti as well as Padma awardees from Uttar Pradesh. The pension — started by the Akhilesh Yadav government in 2016 — was stopped from March, soon after the Adityanath-led BJP government took over. A total of 172 Yash Bharti awardees — including Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap and Raj Babbar — and 30 Padma awardees — such as Girija Devi, Ashok Chakradhar and Anup Jalota — had been getting the pension.
“There are 269 Yash Bharti awardees in the state. Of them, 172 awardees who had requested for the pension were getting the amount till February this year. The beneficiaries include film stars, cricketers, singers. Thirty Padma awardees were also getting the pension. But the pension has now been stopped and further directives are awaited from the Chief Minister’s Office,” said an official in the culture department.
During a review meeting of the culture department on April 21, Adityanath ordered a detailed review of the Yash Bharti awards, focusing on the criteria for selecting awardees. The CM noted that the dignity of the awardees should be kept in mind because honouring ineligible people lowered the dignity of the award. Action would be taken on the basis of the review report, he had added.
The Mulayam Singh Yadav government instituted the Yash Bharti award — the highest award of the UP government — in 1994-95 to be given to personalities for their contribution in the fields of literature, social work, medicine, science, film, journalism, handcrafts, culture, drama, music, education, sports, industry and astrology. Awardees were given a commendation letter, shawl and Rs 1 lakh. The next Mulayam government increased the cash award to Rs 5 lakh in 2005-06. The awards were stopped during the BJP and BSP governments from 1995 to 2003 and 2007 to 2012. After the SP returned to power in 2012, Akhilesh revived the award and increased the cash award to Rs 11 lakh. In 2015, the Akhilesh government also decided to give monthly pension of Rs 50,000 to Yash Bharti and Padma awardees who request for the same.
“Around Rs 10 crore was being spent annually for the pension of Yash Bharti and Padma awardees,” said the culture department official. He said that 82 personalities were given Yash Bharti awards in 2016-17, but the decision on their applications for pension could not be taken because the model code of conduct came into effect for the Assembly polls.
The official said that after the review meeting, the department sent a proposal to the CM’s office, seeking guidelines for review of the scheme and criteria of selection of awardees. “We have sought directives regarding the rank of the officials to conduct the review. The guidelines are awaited. It is uncertain whether the scheme or pension will continue,” he said.
BJP leader asks CM to continue pension
BJP spokesperson Narendra Singh Rana, who received the Yash Bharti award in 2016, under the sportsperson category, sent a letter to CM Yogi Adityanath on May 30 requesting him not to discontinue the pension, claiming it was his only source of income. “The CM is not against the pension. Laxity of officials was possible in release of pension. I have written the letter to draw the CM’s attention to this issue,” Rana said.