The district administration on Saturday decided to implement Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system to streamline the process of pension disbursement to villagers.
According to this system, the sum will be paid to beneficiaries through banks agents. Villagers availing of widow, dependent, old age and handicap pension will benefit from this. Around 32,000 people are expected to benefit from this scheme.
District social security officer (DSSO) Jobandeep Kaur said the decision was arrived at as villagers faced a lot of problems in getting access to government-sponsored benefits.
Explaining the working of the system, Kaur said bank accounts will be opened for those eligible under the scheme. They will also be given biometric Smart Cards, using which bank agents can identify them. She said agents would go to the villages, identify the beneficiaries with the smart card, match fingerprints and hand over the pension.
She added that a memorandum of understanding had been signed with ICICI Bank, where the accounts will be opened. The bank will also be in-charge of issuing the smart cards.
Kaur said the process would take 2-3 months to finish.
She highlighted that EBT system was only for villagers as urban beneficiaries' pension was already being remitted in their accounts.
She said the district had around 40,000 beneficiaries, of whom 8,000 were living in cities.
In the current system, pension is routed through village sarpanches, but in the new scheme the amount will directly be given to beneficiaries through agents.
Nihal Singh (70), a beneficiary and Brass village resident, welcomed the decision and said the current system was plagued by village-level politics. Pensions of those who supported the opposition were delayed, he claimed.