Special Correspondent

They were introduced in Gara mandal to check irregularities in disbursal of pensions

SRIKAKULAM: The amount of money set apart for payment of pensions in Gara mandal but not disbursed used to be Rs.36,000 a month. This was either because of migration or death of pensioners. This was when the payment was made through panchayat secretaries in the mandal.

The same amount had gone up to Rs.84,000 a month, thanks to the introduction of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Time-bound) cards for payment of pensions.

There were complaints of irregularities in the distribution of pensions, and the district administration and Andhra Bank decided to make use of modern technology to set right these regularities. Introduction of SMART cards was the result. Under this system, the pensioner should personally come to the bank to collect his pension.

While payment was made, the fingerprints of the beneficiaries would be checked with those preserved in the computer. They should match.

This would ensure that no bogus person was in a position to collect pension in the name of migrated or dead pensioner.

This was introduced on a pilot basis in Gara mandal and as many as 8,170 have been getting pensions through SMART cards in this mandal.

According to T. Babu Rao Naidu, Project Director, DRDA, which would deposit money for pensioners in the bank and get back the amount not reimbursed, arrangements would be made to pay pensions to the old and handicapped at their doorstep.

It was a success and steps would be taken to introduce the same in other parts of the district, said Collector, Nagulapalli Srikanth.

Lead District Manager Ch. Ramammohan Roy said that the system was likely to be introduced for other banking activities and for payment of wages under the NREGS .