Silchar: Not known to many that there are retired state, private, semi government and public sector undertaking employees who are deprived of legitimate pensions. In fact, they fall under Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) 1995 and what they get in the name of pension is a misnomer. Of the 65 lakh such retirees in the country, nearly 2 lakh are in the northeast, according to an estimate of Pensioners’ Welfare Association Silchar. Tea garden employees are also among them. Their pension ranges from a paltry sum of Rs 500 to Rs 2500 per month only. It is like putting cumin in the mouth of a camel.
In this hard time, it is extremely difficult for the retired persons to maintain themselves and their dependants. “Our all India organization has demanded minimum monthly pension of Rs 7500 which will be not only honourable but also sustainable,” pointed out P K Chakraborty, president Silchar Pensioners’ Welfare Association. Their organization has been on the path of agitation for the last 4 years under the guidance and leadership of Ashok Raut in support of their slew of demands.
It was during the time of late Prime Minister Narsimha Rao that EPS was brought into force in order to provide social security to the retirees in their old age. Unfortunately, even after a lapse of 24 years, the amount of pension remains stagnant and no corrective measures have been taken to do justice to them, said Chakraborty. It is also saddening that the recommendations of Bhagat Singh Kosari, Rajya Sabha member, Committee constituted in 2013 have not been implemented yet.
Even the favourable judgements given by the High Courts of Kerala and Chennai for enhancement of pension are also lying on papers only. It was like a bolt from the blue to these old retirees when the Chief Provident Fund Commissioner issued an order rather quite arbitrarily in 1917 against any enhancement of their pension. Chakraborty said it is a travesty of fortune that the salaries and allowances of officers and employees of Provident Fund Organisation are met from the fund generated from the contributions of EPS. But, on the question of enhancement of the pension to retirees under EPS, all sorts of arguments and logic are advanced to negate any positive step. “
We are determined to carry forward our agitation on all India level under the banner of National Agitation Committee and also intensify it,” said P K Chakraborty. Their agitation is on 5 point charter of demands which include enhancement of monthly pension to Rs 7500, withdrawal of the ordinance of 2017 by EPF, provision of medical allowance to those who do not get pension under EPS 1995, implementation of payment of contributions to the successors of EPS employees after their death and payment of monthly pension of Rs 5000 to those deprived of pension under EPS.
In the meantime, National Agitation Committee has given a final shape to its nationwide movement. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Labour and Employment and Chief Provident Fund Organisation have been informed of it. On Monday, a protest demonstration has been planned before the office of the assistant provident fund commissioner here.