Their cards were deleted from roster during 2011-12 revision

The old age pension of Rs. 400 is a significant part of income for Adam (67), who is now too old to find work, and lives with his two daughters and wife Saramma (47).

However, since January, the couple, who live in a ramshackle house in Golthamajalu near Bantwal taluk, have not received even this. After waiting for four months – for payments have been erratic before – they were shocked to find out that their pension card has been cancelled.

Mr. Adam is among 14,000 persons here whose cards have been deleted from rosters after the physical verification conducted between April 2011 and December 2012. Currently, 72,110 persons are beneficiaries of the centrally-funded Old Age, Physically-Handicapped, Sandhya Suraksha and Widow pension schemes in the district. As a result, 1,077 people have applied since March for restarting the pensions.

Kept in the dark

There are conceptual problems with the way the physical verification has been done by either village accountants or anganwadi workers.

The criteria for cancellation given to the workers were: migration or changing their home address, rise in the family income beyond Rs. 17,000 annually, or, for widow pension, children reaching “working age”. The clause related to widow pensions is ambiguous because beneficiary’s name is withdrawn once her child crossed 18 – irrespective of whether he is earning enough for the widow too.

Even those who have “survived” physical verification have to be on their toes. If the postal order is not collected for a month, or if the bank account has not been operated for three months, the software at the Treasury Department will automatically block the beneficiary.

Sandhya K.S., Additional Director, Social Security and Pensions Department, said the drives and compliance to rules were “necessary” to ensure there is no misuse of the cards.

“There will be multiple applications to give, but these drives have to be done. This time, many government officials who were claiming these benefits have been exposed,” she said.

However, there has been little action against these officials. “There has been no order to recover falsely taken pensions,” she said.

  • There are 72,110 beneficiaries of the centrally-funded schemes in the district

  • The verification process is riddled with conceptual problems