The Centre recently announced pension schemes for widows and disabled living below the poverty line (BPL), but records of a similar scheme for the elderly show they benefit little, with many states contributing next to nothing towards it.
The Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) was launched on November 19, 2007 to provide a monthly pension of Rs 200 to those over 65 years of age and living below the hunger line. The cost of the scheme was estimated to be Rs 3,772 crore, with the states and union territories expected to match Centre’s contribution.
Though the number of beneficiaries under the scheme has touched 1.50 crore, but records show that they are getting pittance from the states. “Several states contribute to the scheme. Some pay more than Rs 200 to each beneficiary, while others give less. There are some who do not contribute at all,” said Union Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.
A ministry’s statement for 2008-09 shows that states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, J&K, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland were contributing nothing towards the scheme.
Kerala’s contribution to each beneficiary was just Rs 35, Assam and Mizoram paid Rs 50 each, while Madhya Pradesh doled out Rs 75. The contribution from Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura is Rs 100.
Goa and Delhi pay Rs 800 — the highest in the country — to each beneficiary, while Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Sikkim give Rs 200 each. Punjab’s contribution is Rs 250.
The government has now started the implementation of the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) and Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS), part of the National Social Assistance Programme.
While IGNWPS will cover over 44 lakh BPL widows between 40 and 64 years of age, more than 15 lakh people with 40 per cent disability and in the age group of 18-64 will be covered under the IGNDPS.
“The justification for including persons with severe or multiple disability is that they cannot benefit from wage or self- employment schemes. In the case of widows, some minimal income security is essential to enable them to live a life of dignity and to enable them to look after their children,” said Singh.