March 27, 2009 1:36:39 am
The state Election Commission office has forwarded the Haryana governments request for distribution of enhanced pension worth Rs 500 crore to the aged,widows,physically challenged and the destitute in the state to the Election Commission.
Sajjan Singh,Chief Electoral Officer (CEO),Haryana,said the request had been sent and it was up to the EC now to take any decision in this regard. It may take a day or two for a decision on the issue that benefits lakhs of people.
Incidentally,Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had announced mega sops worth crores of rupees just a few days before the announcement of the general elections. The announcement was to come into effect from April 1. However,with the model code of conduct enforced in the state,the government cannot go ahead with the implementation next month unless the EC approves it.
There is no bar on the release of regular pension to the people,but since it involves enhancement of the cash incentive,the permission of the EC has become necessary.
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The office of the Chief Secretary had advised the Finance department to inform the EC about the matter. Hooda had announced an increase in old-age pension from the existing Rs 300 per month to Rs 500 per month. This would put an additional financial burden of Rs 276 crore on the state. Later,the government further enhanced the hike from Rs 500 to Rs 700 per month for the aged who had been getting pension for the past 10 years.
The widow pension was raised from Rs 350 to Rs 550 per month. Similarly,the monthly allowance of the physically challenged persons and the unemployed youth too were enhanced by the government.
The Hooda government had announced that the enhanced pension was to be implemented from April 1 to be paid in May,but later the government changed its order to make the payment from April 1 itself.
With the announcement of the election,the matter has become politically sensitive.
The EC will consider these aspects before taking any decision,said a senior government official.
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