Senior Citizens, Disabled Persons Face Inconvenience as They Register for Rs 1,000 Pension Scheme
Image Courtesy: Flickr
Srinagar: The administration has drawn flak in the wake of hardships faced by old-age pensioners, disabled persons, widows, and the transgender community in Jammu and Kashmir being asked to go for a re-registration in the Social Welfare Department.
Many including social activists, political leadership and beneficiaries expressed their dismay over the directive which has overwhelmed the latter and are now rushing towards the government offices to register themselves to avail of the social welfare pension scheme.
The beneficiaries of the old age pension scheme, while expressing their resentment against the renewal of the age certificate, alleged that they were made to move from one office to another after several of their documents were being rejected.
“Our age certificates require attestation by the medical officer in the office of Block Medical Office but it has created a huge inconvenience for us,” an octogenarian beneficiary Ghulam Mohd said.
What has compounded the problems for the beneficiaries is that they have to wait for hours in severe cold. Many of them include women and specially-abled persons, who have to wait in queues to complete the process.
“The administration has created a problem for us and they are very curt while dealing with us. It makes us feel bad. We are old people and in need. Some of us have to travel from far-flung areas and there is a risk for old age persons in this process,” Abdul Salam said.
CPI(M) leader Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami, however, said that the administration is making the registration process very hard which makes a mockery of a single-window system that was meant to provide easy access to government services.
“The beneficiaries, who are old, including the disabled, are being made to sit for hours in sub-zero temperatures outside concerned District Medical Boards, which is very difficult for those living in far-flung areas,” he said.
Several applicants have returned home after days without getting their details uploaded to the official site. Others claim that the monthly assistance of Rs 1000 is very less and needs to be enhanced.
“This pension is sustenance to thousands of disabled, widows, divorcees, transgender people, and elderly people most of whom are not in a condition to fetch the required disability certificates, affidavits, Aadhar details, age and domicile certificates from the concerned officers,” Tarigami said.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Vice President Kashmir Province Er. Nazir Yatoo said he was shocked to know how old age pensioners and widows are being asked to go through the process of verification.
“This pension is only a means of sustenance for some people, and the government should consider those elderly pensioners who live alone and do not have caregivers to assist them in reaching the CMO office and at least authorize BMOs to issue age certificates in those cases,” he said.
The officials, while speaking to local media, said that it is a requirement under the rules. The re-verification was done after every five years but has not been done, according to officials, for many years. At Srinagar’s Jawahar Nagar area scores of beneficiaries were seen waiting in long queues near the District Medical Board following which prominent social activist Raja Muzaffar Bhat lashed out at the authorities for being apathetic towards them.
“Old men and women are being called to Srinagar and other district headquarters for document verification. Is this the Model of Good Governance?” he said.
The district administration in Srinagar, however, later created four more zones in the city for the convenience of beneficiaries in the wake of the “huge influx” of people for Age Certificates.
Another social activist Tahir Peerzada also termed it saddening that elderly persons and other needy persons are being made to wait for hours in the harsh cold to get their registration done.
“This is really sad! How can you do that, causing inconvenience to thousands of old age people? Please don’t play with the dignity and honour of our elderly! Honorable Office Of LG J&K needs to intervene,” he tweeted.
"This documentation happens after every five years but this time it had been more than that. We have given ample time for the update of documents and informed beneficiaries about it. So, there is no need to go into panic mode as we can extend the time beyond winter months as well," Director Social Welfare department Kashmir Mohammad Shafiq told NewsClick.
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