Centre urged to pick up the tab for old age pension scheme

Special Correspondent

At present, the State Government foots 50 per cent of the cost

CHENNAI: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has requested the Centre to cover the cost of giving pension to destitute old people covered under old age pension scheme in operation in the State.

Tamil Nadu pioneered the scheme in 1962, and the pension was revised to Rs.400 a month since August 2006. As many as 13.54 lakh senior citizens benefit from the scheme.

“In the Rs.400 [per person per month] Rs.200 is our funds and Rs.200 is Central Government funds. If the Central Government gives the entire Rs.400 from its own funds it will be good. It will also help our finances,” Mr. Karunanidhi said. Many schemes pioneered in Tamil Nadu had been praised and emulated at the national level.

Speaking at a function to mark the launch (in the State) of the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, Mr. Karunanidhi said when it was launched in 1962, Rs.20 was given as old age pension. After the DMK came to power, this amount was enhanced. When the DMK came to power last time, the pension was raised to Rs.200 and on August 1, 2006, the amount was doubled. Under the Indira Gandhi scheme, a better version of the National Old Age Pension Scheme, all persons over 65 and who are below poverty line are eligible for the amount. In the State over 5.4 lakh people were given financial aid under the Old Age Pension Scheme, said Social Welfare Minister Poongothai Aladi Aruna. As many as 80,356 were granted pension for physically handicapped; 5.36 lakh received destitute women pension; 97,830 were given destitute agricultural labourers pension and 91,235, deserted wives pension.

She said that according to a Central government assessment 9.77 lakh persons could benefit from the scheme in the State. The State government would take efforts to identify all those eligible and grant them pensions, she said.

Mr. Karunanidhi distributed pensions to a few senior citizens.

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