EDITORIAL

Easing pensioners’ pain

The somnolent Pension department in Assam has been sternly set a target by Fince minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. It must clear 1,500 pending files by the 7th of every month. This way, the backlog of 8,000 pension applications will be cleared by December this year, hopes the minister. This move follows Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal’s call to make the pension procedure hassle-free by evolving a proper mechanism. For far too long, the Pension department has been allowed to get away with inefficiency and rampant graft, forcing retired government employees to run from pillar to post for their pension. This has encouraged touts and middlemen to operate, through whom a section of pension officials extort bribes to fast-track applications. There have been instances galore when upright ex-employees refused to cough up bribes to get their pension sanctioned, and paid the price by going without pension. Some of them have even passed away, spending their last days in utter despair without pension support for which they had contributed throughout their working lives. This utterly shameful loot must stop forthwith. The new government’s initiative is therefore highly welcome. If carried out sincerely, it will go a long way to impart dignity and a degree of economic security to retired workers.