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Disability pension denial bares Aadhaar confusion in Jharkhand

Social activist Narayan Kandeyang claimed the sight of the boy shook him and prompted him to directly tweet it to chief minister on Sunday
Representational image.
Representational image.
File photo

Animesh Bisoee   |   Jamshedpur   |   Published 31.05.22, 01:17 AM

The case of a 11-year-old intellectually impaired boy denied disability pensions for lack of Aadhaar card in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district again mirrors lack of awareness about the unique ID card not being mandatory for social benefits.

The case of Kushun Kandeyang, a native of Madkamhatu village in Khuntpani block of West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand surfaced after a social activist, Narayan Kandeyang tweeted the plight of the malnourished boy to the chief minister Hemant Soren on Sunday evening.

“I had been outside and came to Khuntpani and engaged in food right activity during Covid lockdown. I came to hear about the boy and went to his house. He could not even speak and was not mentally fit. He was very feeble and malnourished and his poor parents father Saluka Kandeyang, 42, and mother Randay Kui, 36, both of whom used to work as labourers in other field were barely able to meet the requirements of the boy,” said Narayan.

Narayan claimed that the sight of the boy shook him and prompted him to directly tweet it to the chief minister on Sunday evening.

“I tweeted a photo and video of the boy to the chief minister showing his horrible condition. The parents claimed that they had twice gone to make Aadhaar card, as otherwise they were denied disability pension for their boy, however due to failure in getting biometrics, they were denied Aadhaar card and also social benefits,” said Narayan.

Significantly, Soren had shared the tweet with the West Singhbhum deputy commissioner Ananya Mittal on Sunday night itself, directing for suitable medical treatment of the boy and linking the family and the boy with all social security benefits and informing the chief minister office.

“It is surprising that disability camps were held across Jharkhand almost in all districts and blocks, but the local officials did not take the pain to link the poor boy with disability benefits. They still feel that Aadhaar card is necessary for all government benefits, not aware about the Supreme Court directive against it,” lamented Narayan.

Incidentally, the Supreme Court had in September 2018 directed that a person’s rights could not be denied on the ground of lack of the unique ID (Aadhaar card).

As per an announcement made by Soren during the state’s foundation function on November 15, last year, the state became the first in the country to have a universal pension scheme for elderly, widowed and disabled.

As of now, in other states, pensions are provided to elderlies, widowed and physically challenged only if they fall below the poverty line (BPL) or belong to SC/ST. Social security pensions are also given to those having HIV/AIDS and falling under BPL category.

In Jharkhand, social security pensions are paid at the rate of Rs 1,000 per month, of which Rs 300 per month comes from the central government under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) and the rest from the state government.

West Singhbhum DC expressed surprise that the boy was denied disability pension due to lack of an Aadhaar card.

“I have asked the Khuntpani block development officer (Jagi Mahato) to probe into the reason for the boy not being given government benefits on the pretext of not having an Aadhaar card. Our administrative team comprising health experts reached the village on Monday afternoon and took the boy for admission in the malnourishment treatment centre (MTC) at Sadar Hospital. We are also going to examine the boy by a panel of medical experts so that a proper disability certificate can be issued and linked with disability pension scheme. We are also going to link the family with government schemes,” said Mittal.

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