Tarun Gogoi government failing to release pittance of Rs 50 per BPL senior citizen on time
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Aug 22: When it comes to wearing his loyalty for the Nehru-Gandhi family on his sleeves, Tarun Gogoi does it shouting from the rooftops. Only a couple of days back, he made yet another grandiose announcement of a Rs 1,000-crore skill development programme in the State, to be med after Rajiv Gandhi. For added measure, Gogoi said his government will erect Rajiv Gandhi's statue in every district of the State.
Meanwhile, a much-trumpeted and long-running pension scheme for BPL people, med after Indira Gandhi, is dying a quiet death thanks to its weak-kneed and irresponsible handling by the Tarun Gogoi government.
The Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) has been plagued by unchecked irregularities - from short release of state's share, deficiencies in planning, idequate awareness among beneficiaries, lack of monitoring to social audit.
Worse, there is a huge backlog in payment of pensions, with the Congress-led State government failing to release its committed Minimum Mandatory Provision (MMP) regularly.
The Indira Gandhi tiol Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) is a non-contributory old age pension scheme that covers people who are 60 years and above, and live below the poverty line. The pension scheme is part of the tiol Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) that was launched by the Ministry of Rural Development in August, 1995.
Assam has around 6.1 per cent old age population. The Central assistance under IGNOAPS is provided at the rate of Rs 200 per month per beneficiary in the age group 60-79 and Rs 500 per month to beneficiaries who are 80 years and above. States were asked to contribute at least an amount equal to the central assistance. However, during 2009-14, Assam government has been contributing only Rs 50 per month per beneficiary for all categories.
Seventeen other states either pay an amount equal to the Central assistance or even more.
Assam government, for that matter, has even failed to release the committed amount - of Rs 50 per beneficiary - on time. During 2009-14, Assam government released an amount of Rs 71 crore - a short release of Rs 125.63 crore.
There are 7,50,501 beneficiaries under the scheme in the State. More than half of them are being deprived of the full benefit of the scheme. The pension is being disbursed after inordite delays instead of disbursement on the first day of the month as is envisaged in the guidelines. There are instances of beneficiaries receiving pension after a delay of 481 days.
According to the guidelines of the scheme, the beneficiaries are entitled to a pension of Rs 400 to Rs 1,000 per month. Because of the short release of State's share, there is a huge backlog in payment of pension, official sources said.