Many beneficiaries who talked to The Hindu said at best the payments were erratic, and generally came as a lump sum every few months.

“Do I look like I’m dead?” asked 70-year-old Yamuna Poovappa, when she found out that she had not received pension under the State Government’s Sandhya Suraksha scheme after being declared “dead” by the Treasury Department.

Not getting her entitled payout of Rs. 400 under the scheme for 10 months meant that the resident of Yedurpadavu near Moodushedde on the outskirts of the city could no more afford medicines to control her blood pressure or the pain crippling her legs and hands. “I’m too old to do any work. My husband who is 80 cannot work. From whatever little savings we have had, we can barely afford a full meal a day,” said Ms. Poovappa.

The source of the delay in payments was, strangely, the death of a pensioner in the same village by the name Yamuna Hoovaiah. “The treasury office was intimated that Yamuna Hoovaiah had died. But instead, the office had mistakenly deleted Yamuna Poovappa’s name,” said taluk panchayat member Harish Kumar.

Ms. Poovappa is not the only victim of data entry error. The application of speech-impaired Ramavati, a resident of Moodushedde, was rejected by authorities after Treasury Department officials typed in her brother’s application number during the renewal instead of hers. It has been eight months since she last got her disability amount.

Erratic payments

It is either be through data entry errors, rejections due to the strict guidelines set by the Government, or delay in the treasury Office that sees many of the 69,056 people in the district who come under the social security net (includes the Centrally-funded Old Age Pension, Physically handicapped Pension, Sandhya Suraksha and Widow Scheme) being denied their pensions on time.

Many beneficiaries who talked to The Hindu said at best the payments were erratic, and generally came as a lump sum every few months. “We get it once in two months or four months. Currently, I am due for the past four months. As I cannot work, it becomes very difficult to pay for even basic commodities now,” said Harish Amin (28), who, through a birth defect, was born without limbs.

Similarly, Shyamala Guruprasad, a paraplegic at Kuthlur village in Belthangady taluk, said her disability pension had not been paid for over nine months; while, Jayanthi Shetty, from the Badaga Yedapadavu Gram Panchayat said beneficiaries in her village had not received the amount in over six months.

Delay

Sandhya K.S., Additional Director, Social Security and Pensions Department, said although sanctioning of the four schemes was done within a month, it was in the Treasury Department where the delay occurred.

“Apart from the delay in sending the money, as 90 per cent of the pensions are delivered by the post office, there is delay here too,” she said.

While accepting there was a delay, officials who dealt with the Treasury Department said they were too under-staffed to operate. “One village accountant handles around 300 cases. Similarly, at the treasury office, the strength of the staff is inadequate to handle pension disbursal, payment of receipts by other departments and so on,” he said.

More In: Mangaluru