Life after retirement is not easy to contemplate, but for an Assam government employee, it must be an extremely daunting prospect. If the superannuated person has served as a teacher, or zila parishad or panchayat employee, or in any other State government department with perceived low clout, then difficult days lie ahead. After the post-retirement benefits and savings are used up, there may be a provisiol monthly pension or no pension at all. This is because they may not receive their full pensions for at least 2-3 years after retirement. Presently, over 5,000 files are pending in the pension directorate, choking under red tape and overburdened due to a chronic shortage of employees. The pile keeps growing every day, with an average fifty fresh files coming from the Education department alone. Files are disposed at a sil’s pace, with practically four-five employees out of around 35 engaged in the task. A few employees are working on contractual basis, while several other posts have been lying vacant for years. There is hardly any space to keep files; trying to locate a file is a fiendishly difficult task. In an age in which powerful desktop computers can be assembled at a cost of Rs 12-15 thousand, the pension directorate makes do with some hired computers for which regular monthly rents are paid. The office itself is nondescript, located on the sixth floor of a building in Dispur. The lift is mostly defunct, which means thousands of elderly people have to negotiate its stairs every day to push their files. As of now there is a two-year backlog in the pension directorate, its employees working on files of May, 2013. It is a hellish situation, and therefore ripe for misuse. Many retired persons have alleged that no pension file can move without bribes. In fact, the callousness of the Assam government to its own former employees gives the opportunity for a corrupted employees in the concerned district offices, pension directorate, concerned departmental offices and treasuries. The corruption has become so institutiolised that many ‘far-sighted’ State government employees six months before retirement contact middlemen, as they begin readying their pension files.
On pensioner's woes