Widows dogged by pension woes
Complex procedures increase the ordeals of widows who are unable to avail their pension.
It’s been four years since Radhika, a resident of Perambur, applied for a widow certificate to be able to avail pension under the social security scheme. However, despite frequent visits to the local tahsildars, office, she is yet to receive one. “Initially, I was told that they had misplaced my application and so I re-applied. But I’m still waiting,” said Radhika. “Like me, many others queue up outside the tahsildar’s office, hoping to get their dues every week,” she said.
Hamsaveni, a resident of Korukkupet, lost her husband a few years ago. She stopped receiving pension two years ago. “When I asked an official, he said I’ll get it soon and asked me to go home,” she said. “I live in a single-room home and work in nine houses daily to make ends meet. The pension helped ease that but now I am struggling,” she said holding back tears.
There are currently over 5 lakh beneficiaries availing the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) and 4.23 lakh avail the Destitute Widow Pension Scheme (DWPS) in the State. In Chennai alone, 62,073 persons avail the pension under IGNWPS and 55, 642 avail under DWPS. Last year, the Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department issued an order where it mentioned that all beneficiaries must be destitute i.e., without any source of income, own fixed assets less than Rs. 50,000, and can have a legal heir, but the sanctioning authority must be convinced that all of them come under the ‘below poverty line’ category.
“We need an intervention to help these women,” said K. Shanmugavelayutham, member of Pension Parishad. “Every year, the Department gives pension to only a certain group of people, due to which, many who are really in dire need get left out,” he added. Adding to this, V. Indira, senior coordinator, Human Rights Foundation (HRF), said: “The procedures have become increasingly complex. Even getting a widow certificate is a tough deal. With people applying for pensions every year, the State needs to appropriate steps to help them,” she said.
The Chennai Collectorate officials, on the other hand, said that they are regularly coordinating with local tahsildars to guide applicants. “We have a grievance meeting at the Collectorate, every week, where we guide women to avail the various pension schemes. We are doing our best to help,” said a senior official.
Source: The Hindu, August 11, 2016