Dues of thousands of people since July last to be paid
It takes a few moments to get accustomed to the dimness inside Shahnavaz’s home, near Chakka. The 23-year-old has a haunted look about him, lending him an appearance of being much older than he is. Shahnavaz’s mobility is hampered by a progressive genetic disease called muscular dystrophy, he has a sister with the same condition, his father is in a coma for the past month, and mother is struggling to meet medical bills. But there may be a sliver of hope round the corner.
Shahnavaz and his sister, Sudheera, are among the 5,344 beneficiaries in the capital district alone who rely heavily on the State’s welfare pension schemes for the disabled.
They have not received their due since July 2013. But the State and the Union government, it seems, have finally made the allocation to the city Corporation, meaning funds will soon begin to reach the homes of the beneficiaries in the city – and this includes the funds for other four pension categories of widow, old age, agricultural labourer, and pension for unmarried women above 50 years of age.
Since this is an ongoing scheme, the disbursement of funds through bank accounts and post offices will not be affected by the Lok Sabha elections. There is, however, a catch. Shahnavaz said he had not received his pension for over six months now, and even with this recent allocation, he would not receive arrears up to March. The Rs.2.33 crore allocation will be distributed among all disabled beneficiaries, but only till the month of December. The same goes for the other categories as well, except old-age pension which will be distributed among its 8,722 recipients only for the months of August and September.
The widows’ pension may be delayed further because the total allocation for it comes up to Rs.7.14 crore for the 18,229 beneficiaries. For any scheme exceeding the Rs.3-crore limit, special sanction from the State government is necessary. That cannot be obtained until after the elections.
Shahnavaz and his sister now live with their aunt as their house has developed leaks that they cannot afford to repair. Shahnavaz met Chief Minister Oommen Chandy a few days ago when he was at Pettah for an election rally. “He said he will do all he can to help as soon as the election is over. We just need some help, at least to fix our home and help our father recover,” Shahnavaz said.