The Haryana government has initiated efforts to recover crores of rupees withdrawn fraudulently under the old age pension scheme. The Social Justice and Empowerment Department has already started taking strides in the direction by successfully putting in place the electronic transfer of pension amount to the beneficiaries.
Sources said that more than Rs 1.5 crore per month was being withdrawn as pension by those who were either not eligible or did not exist at all. In some instances,criminal cases were also registered and this fiasco earned Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda a lot of flak from the Opposition parties and he also had to face the ire of the senior citizens during his visits to the rural areas.
As per the authorities,total of Rs 126 crore is disbursed to 20.67 lakh beneficiaries of various pension schemes every month. To ensure that the pension money goes only to the beneficiaries,the state launched e-transfer of pension in February this year,but soon hit a roadblock owing to the inadequate banking infrastructure. The government,after clearing the roadblocks,has now managed to open dedicated pension accounts of all beneficiaries under the 6,067 panchayats and 85 municipalities in the state. The department,which has a total budget of Rs 1,500 crore per annum for various pension schemes,disburses pension ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 750 with the exception of Kashmiri migrants who are given Rs 2,500 per month.
In the process of opening the bank accounts,a total of 13,558 people were found to be ineligible for pension while 16,963 failed to report for physical verification. Even if the number of ineligible pensioners is considered,more than Rs 1.5 crore was being withdrawn fraudulently every month. The survey also removed the names of 54,609 people who had died but in many cases their pension was still withdrawn.
Within the last two months,the department has deleted the dubious accounts and filtered the list after which we now have a error free data base. We are now planning to initiate recovery proceedings for the money that was withdrawn by the ineligible persons,in many cases,on the basis of forged data, Ashok Kumar Yadav,Director general of Social Justice and Empowerment Department,told The Indian Express.
The government doles out the pension under various categories,including old age,which has largest number of 12,92,107 beneficiaries. Besides the state has handicapped persons (1,34,820),widows (5,33,221),destitute (75,513),ladli social security scheme (25,179),senior citizens (12,92,107),non school going children (2,873) and Kashmiri migrants (69). Hooda had also announced pension for dwarves and eunuchs but the scheme seems to have failed to attract the targetted groups with only 12 and 8 beneficiaries respectively.