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Punjab finds over 2.75 lakh social security pensioners fake, absent or dead

Ranjeet Jamwal | Chandigarh |

Over eighty-two thousand ineligible persons were enjoying benefits of the Punjab government’s  social security pension scheme. Even more, 1.93 lakh beneficiaries were found to be dead, absent or have given a wrong address.

The verification of all 18.62 lakh beneficiaries of state government’s pension scheme in all 22 districts has revealed that these 82,533 (4.43 per cent) persons were enjoying the pension despite fulfilling the criterion for receiving the same.

The ineligible beneficiaries were being paid Rs 48 Crore annually by the state government as a pension. In April, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had directed officials to undertake detailed scrutiny to eliminate fake or undeserving candidates who are given Rs 750 per month as social security pension.

As per the data on January 1, 2016, there were 19,89,511 beneficiaries in old age, widows, handicapped and orphan kids categories. As per the verification report, while 42,437 of such beneficiaries were getting the old age pension despite having a requisite age (60), 10,199 of such beneficiaries were having more income than prescribed for getting social security pension.

Likewise,  29, 897 beneficiaries were having more land than required for getting the pension. As many as  1,93,000 beneficiaries were found to be dead, absent or with the wrong address.

Of these, while 45,128 had given wrong address for getting the benefit of the scheme, 82,462 were found to be absent from the addresses given and 65,743 beneficiaries were found to be dead.

District wise, the maximum number of ineligible beneficiaries were found in  Sangrur (12,574),   Tarn Taran (9796), Mansa (8998), Amritsar (7602), Muktsar (6756) and Gurdaspur (6662).

The least number of ineligible beneficiaries were found in  Kapurthala (87), Pathankot (170), Nawanshahar (462) and Barnala (541).

Percentage-wise, the maximum number of ineligible beneficiaries were found in Mansa (10.48 per cent), Muktsar (9.20 per cent), Tarn Taran (8.95 per cent) and Sangrur (8.52 per cent).

In June, the Punjab government raised the annual income limit of eligibility for pension and other social security schemes to Rs 60,000 from Rs 24,000. As per conditions for such schemes, an applicant should not be in government or private service, and should not have an annual income of more than Rs 60,000 from any source, including interest/rental income.  Further, the applicant would also need to provide a self-certificate that he/she does not have more than 2.5 acres of land.