Skip to main content

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.
Resolving to observe September 28 as the National Action Day on Starvation Death, the public hearing marked the first death anniversary of Simdega’s 11-year-old school girl Santoshi Kumari, who died of hunger. Her family’s ration-card was cancelled as it was not linked to aadhaar. Her last words crying for rice are said to be “bhaat, bhaat”.
It was organized against the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court verdict, which refused to strike down Section 7 of the Act. According to the Right to Food Campaign, this amounted to “refusal to offer any relief to the vulnerable millions who will need to provide the 12-digit biometric number to avail of government subsidies.”
The Right to Food Campaign (RFC) claimed in a statement issued at the public hearing, “Nearly 17 lakh elderly, widows and differently-abled persons in Jharkhand, who qualify for social security pensions, do not receive their entitlement.” 
Citing reasons, it said, “Pension coverage in Jharkhand is not universal. Even those who do receive pensions face chronic selection errors and administrative glitches. In 2016-17, three lakh pensioners were deleted as ‘fake’, though many genuine persons, whose pension accounts were not linked with aadhaar, were also excluded.”
It added, “Persons earning more than Rs 875 a month in rural areas are outside the ambit of these pensions. To be eligible for old age pension, the person has to be at least 60 years old. However, years’ of arduous manual labour makes people incapable of working till that age and they need economic assistance much before.”
Pointing towards cumbersome application procedures, RFC said, “Numerous supporting documents have to be attached with the application form and it often takes years for the applications to move up the various layers of government – Gram Panchayat, Block, District, State and back.”
It further said, “Social security pension amounts are currently a mere Rs 600 a month in Jharkhand (Rs 700 for persons above 80 years of age). This amount is woefully inadequate to meet basic needs of nutrition, health, clothing etc.”, adding, “Pensioners have to often wait for months to receive their pensions, without any idea as to when they will receive their next payment.”
Pointing towards “inconvenient modes of collection”, RFC said, “Collecting pensions is often quite costly and tedious, especially for the elderly and people with disabilities who have little mobility, education and power. Going to the nearest bank and queuing up there for hours can be an absolute ordeal for them. Post offices are closer but corrupt post office employees often expect an inducement.”
The public hearing panelists included Balram (Right to Food Campaign), Shadab Ansari (Human Rights Law Network) and Binny Azad (Ekal Nari Shakti Sanghatam).
The oral and written testimonies presented by the participants sought to throw light on the “havoc” created by pensions. Several of them complained that people who are not identified as below-the-poverty line (BPL) or earn more than a measly Rs 875 a month in rural areas are not eligible for most state social pensions.
Further, it was pointed out, at least five cases of starvation deaths in the last one year alone in Jharkhand can be attributed to the mandatory imposition of aadhaar. In some cases, the pension amount was credited to the wrong account while in others there were aadhaar authentication failures.
The main demands put forward at the hearing were – implementation of universal pensions, removal of mandatory imposition of aadhaar, timely payment without delays, an inflation-indexed increase in the pension amount to at least Rs 2000 per month and reducing the eligibility age, and all political parties must include these demands in their election manifestos.

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.