Shortage of staff and a centralised system has been delaying the disbursal of gold and money to beneficiaries under the State government’s marriage assistance scheme.

People from areas as far as Kottivakkam on East Coast Road have been forced to make multiple visits to the St. Thomas Mount panchayat union in Chitlapakkam, where the office of the marriage assistance scheme is located.

There are just two staff members at the office, whose duty encompasses receiving filled up application forms, checking if the supporting documents are in order and visiting the house of the applicants, before sending the applications to the district social welfare office in Kancheepuram.

The staff members also have to visit the wedding venue, process the forms and finally hand over the money and gold.

Under the scheme, women receive four grams of gold and those who have completed plus two receive Rs. 25,000, while graduates get Rs. 50,000. “I got married in April 2012 and my daughter is three months old and am yet to receive the government assistance,” said Radhika Ramanujam of Tiruneermalai.

Another resident, Ghiyasudeen, has been waiting for a year to receive the assistance after getting his daughter Famitha Begum, a commerce graduate, married.

“Ideally, such assistance should be given to applicants by the respective local bodies,” he suggests.

Others waiting for more than a year said though it had been more than three years since panchayats along ECR, Rajiv Gandhi Salai, and even Alandur and Nandambakkam, were merged with Chennai Corporation, residents from these areas had to come all the way to Chitlapakkam.

“We end up spending a considerable amount of money on making frequent trips to this office. The process should be simplified,” said R. Kathirvel, who has also been waiting for more than a year following the marriage of his daughter, Meenal.

Officials said the initial part of the whole process itself consumed a couple of months. As there was scope to be mislead, they ensured that only genuine beneficiaries received the assistance. Till December last year, they had processed and extended assistance to more than 2,000 beneficiaries.

Opening additional offices or distributing the assistance through local bodies would make the scheme less cumbersome for the government and easier on beneficiaries too, officials added.

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