3 lakh people denied pensions for not linking Aadhaar? Kerala Finance Min denies
Is Aadhaar linking mandatory in order to be the beneficiary of social security and welfare pensions in Kerala?
Well, the state Finance Minister Thomas Isaac made it clear that Aadhaar is not mandatory to get social security, social welfare pensions. The minister’s explanation came in the wake of a news report that appeared in The Times of India which said that 3 lakh people in the state were denied pension solely because they haven’t linked their Aadhaar card. Quoting sources in the Finance Department, the ToI report states that officials had been insisting on Aadhaar as there have been instances of the same person availing pension more than once. Out of the 6.32 lakh beneficiaries in the state, 3 lakh were yet to link their Aadhaar, stated the report.
The report erupted into a row since the CPI(M) which leads the Left Democratic Front in the state, has taken a firm stand even at the national level against making Aadhaar mandatory. Many flayed the Left saying that it has double standards on the issue.
The minister’s Facebook post also says that officers concerned are authorised to accept other identity proofs such as electoral ID, ration card etc besides Aadhaar as valid proof.
“LDF Government in Kerala has not made Aadhaar mandatory for social security, social welfare pensions. What the Finance Department top officers explained is that ID verification is required. It is not making Aadhaar mandatory,” Isaac said in his post on Thursday.
Going on to say that the ToI report was inaccurate, Isaac stated, “The news to the contrary appeared in the daily is contrary to facts. Pensions were increased and disbursed on time after the LDF Government assumed charge. The pensions were enhanced from Rs 600 to Rs 1100 per month. The LDF government, soon after assuming office cleared these arrears of nearly Rs 1500 crores defaulted by the previous UDF government.”
The post also claims that the number of pensioners increased substantially after the LDF came to power, due to which the government’s commitment on social security pensions has gone up from Rs 2000 crore annually to Rs 6000 crore.
The state FM also noted that the reason the government was demanding ID proof was owing to a number of ineligible recipients.
“Now there are 42.5 lakh social security pensioners and nearly 10 lakh welfare pensioners on the roll. It has been pointed out that there is a mismatch in these numbers when compared to the 2011 Census data on population above 60 years of age. More over a performance audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General has made references to eligible beneficiaries, who have been left out and on ineligible recipients. That’s why ID proof is being used to verify beneficiaries,” stated Isaac.
He also pointed out, “The concerned secretaries of the local government or the Chief Executive Officers of the Welfare Boards have been authorised to accept other IDs like electoral ID, ration Card etc as valid proof for those who do not have Aadhaar. Subsequently, local body adalaths were held to dispose the cases in which no ID was produced, even an affidavit reliable to local authorities was accepted as valid proof.”