18% pensioners missing in Punjab | punjab | top | Hindustan Times
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18% pensioners missing in Punjab

Nearly four lakh beneficiaries of Punjab’s pension scheme are not available at their given address or have passed away, a survey by the state government has found

punjab Updated: Dec 16, 2017 10:30 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
The missing beneficiaries account for at least 18% of the 19.8 lakh registered with the  social welfare department.
The missing beneficiaries account for at least 18% of the 19.8 lakh registered with the social welfare department.(PTI File Photo)

Nearly four lakh beneficiaries of Punjab’s pension scheme are not available at their given address or have passed away, a survey by the state government has found.

The missing beneficiaries account for at least 18% of the 19.8 lakh registered with the social welfare department.

The most cases of fake beneficiaries, 32%, were in Bathinda district — home turf of the Badals who have been at the helm of the government for 10 years.

Of the 1,11,621 beneficiaries registered there, 35,924 were fake or missing. Amritsar followed, with 25.6% beneficiaries, and Muktsar with 25.2% — Lambi, the home constituency of the former CM falls in this district. Hoshiarpur has the least number of cases, 6.3%, followed by Moga with 8%.

Sources in the welfare department said the government is planning to start a recovery process for the money and action against officers found guilty.The amount to be recovered is in multiple crores of rupees, they said.

The Captain Amarinder Singh government, on coming to power in March, had ordered an inquiry into the pensions. While it was underway, the pension to all beneficiaries was halted.

Department sources said at least 50% beneficiaries were registered during the previous Akali-BJP regime. “The pensions are due from May and we will resume them to genuine beneficiaries very soon,” Kavita Singh, director, social welfare, told HT.

She said that the department had identified the ‘problem cases’ and it would not face trouble recovering the money if a directive was issued.

“In case a beneficiary has an objection to our survey, we are ready to give him or her a chance to prove genuineness,” she said. Close to 16.2 lakh beneficiaries have been identified as genuine; 51,328 were found underage and 42,193 were not below poverty line as mentioned.

In 1.96 lakh cases, the beneficiaries were not found to be residing at the address given to the department and 72,928 beneficiaries are no longer alive.

The Singh government increased the pension amount to ₹750 per month in July this year. Teams formed by the district administration carried out the survey.