The newly-elected Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana has decided to initiate legal action in irregularities detected in the identification of beneficiaries of old-age pension in Karnal district.
The irregularities in the list of beneficiaries, which have financial implications probably to the tune of Rs 4.5 crore as stated by chief minister ML Khattar in the assembly were committed during the reign of the previous Congress regime. An internal audit conducted by the social justice and empowerment department had ascertained the anomalies.
Officials said nearly 29,000 beneficiaries out of 43,000 for the old-age pension enrolled since 2012 were found ineligible.
A preliminary inquiry conducted by the Karnal administration had recommended an in-depth investigation to fix responsibility and recover money. In the meantime, the social justice and empowerment department also received complaints of large-scale irregularities in the enrolment of beneficiaries and an internal probe was ordered to detect the alleged scam.
During his election campaign in Karnal, Khattar had raised the issue about inclusion of ineligible people in the old-age pension in the alleged political-bureaucratic collusion.
The state government was granting “old-age allowance” of Rs 500 to provide social security to persons above 60 years in 2012 and the amount was subsequently to Rs 1,000 by the Hooda government.
Additional deputy commissioner Girish Arora told Hindustan Times on Friday that he had submitted findings of the preliminary inquiry to the state government before May 2014 categorically stating misappropriation of public money by corrupt officials of the social justice department. He said on the basis of complaints, deputy commissioner Balraj Singh had marked an inquiry to the ADC.
“Dates of birth were fudged to show the underage persons as senior citizens. It was a clear case where the officials of social justice department had colluded to list ineligible persons since 2012 but no one took note of it. Role of former district social welfare officer (DSWO) Baljeet Singh Grewal (retired in March this year) was found suspicious as the entire alleged scam took during his posting in Karnal,” said Arora.
Earlier, the old-age pension beneficiaries were declared fit to get pension by a panel of tehsildar, a government doctor and a representative of DSWO. But in 2012, the Hooda government changed rules and authorised DSWO alone to finalise beneficiaries on the basis of age shown on the voter identity cards.
“Records from the local election office confirmed large-scale discrepancies where age proofs were fudged,” said the ADC.
Karnal DC Balraj Singh said pensions were stopped for the last three months for re-verification of entire enrolment procedure since 2012.
Social justice department minister Kavita Jain said the CM had raised the issue in the assembly and soon directions would be given for similar investigations in all districts to weed out ineligible persons. “Due legal action would be initiated against anybody found guilty. However, I appeal to all ineligible persons drawing pension to surrender their names to the officials concerned,” said the minister.