Helpless and flustered senior citizens are a common sight
“Is our name there? No? We didn’t get it last month too. Now, we have to come back another day.” An elderly couple, both over 70 years old, come out of the Treasury discussing their pension. Once again, their trip to the Collectorate has been wasted. They now have to travel all the way back to Thudiyalur on a hot day. “I worked in the transport department,” explains 76-year-old Subramanian. “We recently moved here from Chennai. It’s taking a lot of time to transfer my records from there. Things are slow here, unlike the Treasury in Chennai.”
Srinivasan from Podanur is a frustrated elderly man as he walks out of the Treasury. He says, “It has been 10 years since I retired. I haven’t got my pension for six months. I keep coming here to enquire about it. I do that at least once or twice every month. Each time I come with my papers, the person who attended to me the last time wouldn’t be there. So far, I have had to explain myself to four different people in the same seat. I had to do my paper-work from scratch to submit to each of them. And I have to wait here for hours. I am hoping my work gets done today.” Despite his age Srinivasan always comes to the Treasury alone. “My children are busy with their lives. And one can never say how long it will take for work to get done here. So I prefer coming alone.”
Helpless and flustered senior citizens are a common sight at the Collectorate. They travel long distances by themselves to claim their pension. They have to make repeated visits to the Treasury to ensure they get their pensions regularly. Some of them look defeated, too tired to struggle with the bureaucracy.
Senior citizen Lakshmi speaks of a retired nurse that she knows who hasn’t been getting her pension for two years. “And to think that she slogged day and night at the Government Hospital!” she exclaims.
Lakshmi’s husband recently retired from the Police Department. “He would tell me how some officers, who wielded a lot of power and respect during their term in office, would have to struggle for their pension,” she says.
But there are some feel-good stories too. A retired deputy collector walks out satisfied as his job has been done. Seventy-six-year-old Ramasamy, a retired driver, is also happy that there were no problems with his pension.
Ramasamy feels that pensioners have to be patient with the staff at the Treasury considering the number of people they have to cater to every day. “Sometimes, your papers might get mixed up with another person’s by mistake. We can’t always blame those in office, they too are human beings.” But, he agrees, that such small mistakes can have a big impact on a senior citizen who depends solely on his/her pension. “Some people come here from far-off villages with hardly enough money to even eat something during the day before they go back home. What will they do when they don’t get their pension?”
(Names in the article have been changed)