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Thursday, May 19, 2022

MoD steps in after veterans say not received April pension

After several other officers and other ranks complained of having faced problems in dealing with Sparsh, the Ministry of Defence came clarified that pension would be released to the affected veterans by Wednesday evening.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh |
May 4, 2022 10:31:34 pm
rajnath singh, Lok Sabha, Russia Ukraine, Russia Ukraine Crisis, Russia-Ukraine tension, Ukraine, Ukraine Crisis, India-Ukraine-Russia, NATO, United States, Vladimir Putin, Volodomyr ZelenskyyDefence Minister Rajnath Singh.

More than 58,000 veterans did not receive their pension for the month of April after having failed to update their life certificates as part of the annual identification process. Following an uproar on social media, the Ministry of Defence stepped in and made special provisions for the pensions to be disbursed by Wednesday evening.

The issue came to light after former GOC-in-C Northern Command, Lt Gen DS Hooda (retd) tweeted Tuesday night about a number of veterans not having received their pension for April and sought Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s intervention.

“Veterans complaining of pension stopped without explanation. For most, this is the only source of income. Is this how we say ‘thank you for your service to the nation,” tweeted Lt Gen Hooda.

Many veterans took to social media to highlight the issue and also pointed out that the new system of disbursement of pension — System for Pension Administration (Raksha) (SPARSH) — left a lot to be desired and frequent glitches in it were hampering their efforts to update their records.

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Former GOC-in-C Western Command, Lt Gen KJ Singh (retd) said he too had not received the pension for April. “1- Not been able to log onto Sparsh site. 2-Not seen my pension slip since Sept, last one was by bank. 3-Pension stopped without warning on Jeevan Praman issue. Received 1st intimation on 3rd. Need 2 b responsive & efficient plse. Like OFB &DPSUs, will we privatise,” he asked tagging the Defence Minister.

After several other officers and other ranks complained of having faced problems in dealing with Sparsh, the Ministry of Defence came clarified that pension would be released to the affected veterans by Wednesday evening as a special measure so that they can update their identification by May 25.

“All pensioners must complete annual identification in order to continue receipt of monthly pension, which is usually done in the month of November by all banks acting as Pension Disbursing Agencies. Due to the COVID situation, Government had extended the window for annual identification due on November 30, 2021 upto March 31, 2022,” the statement said.

It added that SPARSH has been successfully disbursing monthly pension to over five lakh pensioners, including 4.47 lakh pensioners migrated from legacy system to SPARSH (post 01.01.2016 retirees) upto March 31, 2022.

“However, during the processing of pension for the month of April 2022, it came to light that annual identification of around 3.3 lakh pensioners was not updated. A list was shared with all Pension Disbursing Banks to share updated identification data, if any, and as a result identification status of more than 2.65 lakh pensioners was updated on SPARSH by April 25 leading to successful processing of pension for all these pensioners,” the statement added.

It said the banks (the previous Pension Disbursing Agency) could not confirm identification for 58,275 pensioners and neither was their identification received directly on SPARSH by the time of monthly closing. Hence, they were not paid their April pension by April 30.

“In order to avoid hardship to such pensioners, a one-time special waiver has been accorded to these 58,275 pensioners to get their identification done by May 25, 2022. The pension for the month of April has now been processed and pension is due to be credited by end-of-day on May 4. All such pensioners are being informed about pending annual identification through SMS and email,” the statement said.

The Ministry of Defence said that the Defence Accounts Department is undergoing a major transformation with an aim to bring transparency and efficiency in various processes and procedures.

“With the broader agenda of digitisation and modernisation of legacy systems, the System for Pension Administration (Raksha) (SPARSH) as an initiative of Ministry of Defence was envisaged to provide comprehensive solution to the administration of pension to the defence pensioners in line with the Government’s vision of Digital India, Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) and Minimum Government, Maximum Governance,” it said.

Earlier , Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had taken a potshot at Centre over the issue. Accusing the Centre of “deception” on the “One Rank, One Pension”, Gandhi said the government was now “adopting the policy of All Rank, No Pension”.

“Insulting soldiers is an insult to the country. The government should give the pension of ex-servicemen at the earliest,” he said in a tweet.

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