From pillar to post for Rs 600 pension

Octogenarian capital resident blames Aadhaar seeding with bank account for his 14-month trouble

By RAJ KUMAR in Ranch
  • Published 29.12.17
Kameshwar Singh

Ranch: Linking Aadhaar with one's bank account is meant to make transfer of benefits direct and hassle-free. But, Kameshwar Singh, for one, will beg to differ.

The 88-year-old pensioner, a resident of Ganganagar in the state capital, says he hasn't received a penny since he linked his unique ID with his savings account with Allahabad Bank's Harmu branchsome 14 months ago.

"The last time I got my pension of Rs 600 was in November 2016. After that all I have ever received are empty assurances from district officials," Singh was overheard complaining to Ward 37 councillor Arun Kumar Jha who advised the elderly man to approach the directorate of social security instead of the municipal corporation.

Speaking to this correspondent, the councillor admitted that the old-age pension system, especially in Jharkhand, was riddled with lapses. "Two days ago, an elderly lady had approached me with a similar problem. I found her complaint genuine, but helping her or this man (Singh) is beyond RMC," Jha said.

Assistant director of social security, Jharkhand, Priyanka Srivastava blamed linking of multiple bank accounts with the Aadhaar number for pension and other government subsidies not reaching bona fide beneficiaries.

"Under the Jan Dhan Yojana, many people opened several accounts with different banks. All these account are linked to Aadhaar and are creating confusion. Pension is being debited from the government side, but most beneficiaries don't have any idea into which of their accounts it is getting credited. I will, however, look into this case (Singh's complaint) afresh," Srivastava said.

The elderly man insisted that the official was bluffing.

"All these months, I did whatever government officials asked me to do. Despite that, I am not getting my pension and I have only one bank account. The matter needs to be probed and the culprits held accountable," Singh said.

Ranchi deputy commissioner Manoj Kumar echoed Srivastava.

"There must be some problem with DBT (direct benefit transfer). Else, pension payment is very regular. We usually hold a review of all accounts to plug loopholes. I will have to look into this specific case," Kumar said, but couldn't guarantee when the octogenarian might receive his meagre sustenance money from the government.

Launched in January 2013, the DBT was an attempt to change the mechanism of transferring subsidies. It was hoped that crediting subsidies into bank accounts directly would do away with delays and curb misappropriation.

The Union government is currently overhauling the process followed by banks for mapping Aadhaar-linked accounts to subsidy payments. It has also temporarily halted the provision of overwriting existing subsidy-linked bank accounts with freshly mapped Aadhaar accounts.

Under the prevailing system, customers linking their bank accounts with Aadhaar meant automatically mapping them to the Aadhaar payment bridge hosted by National Payments Corporation of India. Since government departments send subsidies to the payment bridge, the money was automatically transferred to the last account seeded with Aadhaar.

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