Pension Blues

V K Kandhari
Ever since the State Government announced implementation of 7th Pay Commission recommendation and revision under Formulation II it has been testing time for old pensioners more so for super senior citizens i.e. above 80 years of age. The Government in the Finance department appears to be run by an officer who suffers from myopic vision and planning. The requirement for getting the proforma endorsed by the pension sanctioning authorities is the first bottle neck faced by old pensioners. Consider the case of an officer who lives on remote area of Bani or retired from a school in Ladakh . He is expected to go to CEO Leh to get his form attested. Field officers are seldom available in their offices, one may have to wait for weeks together for getting his form endorsed by the authority. I have met some retired pensioners who had repeatedly gone to Office of CEO 10 to 12 times for getting needful done. Thereafter, this retired man had to hoped that the District Treasury Officer, LEH will forward case to Kashmir wing of AG. Then he has to wait, if his life permits, for getting Revised PPO. What is most confusing is the fact that there is no wherewithal to get confirmation if the case has ever reached the designated office. As and when an hapless pensioner is fortunate to finally receive his Revised PPO, he has to collect his PPO (called disburser’s half) from the pension paying bank branch and along with PPO ( called pensioner’s Half) lying with him to the linked Treasury for getting entry made. Here first human interaction starts and if the pensioner is wise and could pick up the cue from the babu or has some influence, he can get this entry made within 5 to 7 minutes. In case of less intelligent pensioners, a date spanning over 7 to 10 days is given to get his entry made. In some case a poor pensioner is made to visit office many a time on one or the other alibi. What is most pathetic is the fact that treasury official expects even super senior pensioners to visit in person oblivious of their age and immobility. Some of the treasuries like one at New Plots, Jammu is located in the first floor which is most inconvenient to these old pensioners, yet they are made to visit time and again. There is no seating arrangement for old citizen who are made to stand for hours in a queue for hours. Some treasuries like one located at Muthi is inaccessible to old pensioners but are forced to pay repeated visits for getting simple entry made.
Normally, a sensitive administration would not allow this confusion. These entries could be made by the bank itself as is the case with Central Government pensioner where PPOs are directly forwarded to the bank. Both halves of PPOs are with the bank paying pension. No pension scam or scandal has been heard in central pensioners where a number of banks disburse the pension.
In order to obviate hardship to these pensioners it is requested that authorities may consider following suggestion:
A system of software be developed in AG Office to update pensioners the status of their case by SMS as in the case of passports where the applicant may be asked to pay for this facility. This would obviate any visit to this office for getting status of the case or even to confirm the receipt of the case in this office.
Normally, a pensioner should not have to visit the treasury at all as the J and k Bank can be trusted for this purpose. But if the Bank is yet to exude confidence with the Government, the entries could be audited by the treasury or bank gets entries made itself in a bulk rather than making old pensioner visit the Treasury. However, if this does not find favour with Finance Department, it should advise Treasury officers to instruct their subordinates to be considerate to the pensioner. Normally, there is no rush for making entries in the treasuries, if ever there is one they should give pensioners/their representatives a ticket number indicating the date when they could get their papers back hassle free.
A paid SMS service too can be considered to update the status. A list cases submitted for entries should be displayed on the notice boards of the treasuries concerned besides being made available at web site the of officers at the district, division and State level. This will eliminate any underhand means adopted by individuals that bring the administration into disrepute. It is hoped the Governor will be pleased to issue instruction in this regard.