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Smart way to ease pensioners’ woes

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 6: Beneficiaries of the social security pension (SSP) scheme of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) would soon use smart cards to draw and deposit money.

Sources in the corporation said preliminary work such as enrolment of beneficiaries and getting their photographs and fingerprints had been completed in six wards. With all the 60 wards likely to be covered by December 15, smart cards with microchips should be available to the beneficiaries by month end. Beneficiaries would be able to draw their pension using the cards in January, said a source.

The corporation is implementing the smart card scheme in collaboration with Axis Bank. This is part of the bank’s financial inclusion programme for the urban poor. Forty portable machines, which using the general pocket radio service (GPRS) network, have been pressed into service for expediting the smart card work. The device can take photographs of the beneficiaries apart from scanning their fingerprints. They are linked to a central server that checks each photograph and name and ensures that no data is repeated. “We have started taking photographs of the beneficiaries from the Kalpana Cinema area, which has the largest concentration of pensioners. Of the 10,500 pensioners in the city, this area alone has 550 of them,” said a BMC official.

BMC slum improvement officer Dillip Routrai said smart cards would cover beneficiaries under Madhu Babu Pension Yojana and disabled and HIV positive persons drawing pensions. “We are also distributing pensions under the Indira Gandhi National Programme,’’ he added.

The officer said the switchover to the smart card system would not only enable BMC to weed out fake cardholders but would also help the elderly and the poor draw pensions easily and deposit money.

“Armed with portable machines, which function like mobile banks, our representatives would visit different areas on fixed days. The pensioners can draw their pension amount using the smart cards and also deposit money,” said a bank official.

Physically challenged Laxmi Swain (39), who is an SSP beneficiary from Gadakana village, felt that the smart card would make drawing money easy and safe. Gourang Jena, a 62-year-old pensioner, expressed similar feelings. The Samantarapur branch head of Axis bank, Kirti Chandra Sahu, who is the nodal officer for the project, said the scheme would do away with formalities such as passbooks.

The enrolment of beneficiaries for providing smart cards was carried out today in Sikharachandi, Patia , Gadakana and XIMB Square areas.

“In the first phase the bank will concentrate exclusive on the pension scheme . Other transactions can come later,” he added.

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