Thiruvananthapuram: The state government began the pre-festival disbursal of pensions for 45 lakh beneficiaries on Tuesday. Each pensioner will receive between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000 as what is being disbursed is the pension amount for four months from August to November.
For over 23 lakh pensioners, the amount will be credited in their bank accounts. This process has already begun. The remaining 25 lakh-odd pensioners will receive their pensions at their doorsteps. This will be done using employees of primary agricultural cooperative society (PACS).
PACSs have been identified as the 'postmen' because of their omnipresence. There is at least one PACS in the state’s 941 panchayats, and the rural folk depend on PACS for loans. There were plans to use the Kudumbashree network, but it was found to be too informal for such a gargantuan exercise. The state will pass on the money to the PACS at the local level, which will then refer to the list of beneficiaries drawn up by the panchayats concerned to take the money to the doorsteps.
There has been an increase of over two lakh pensioners compared to the last Onam season. Finance Minister Dr T M Thomas Isaac said that the number of new beneficiaries included after the LDF came to power has crossed 10 lakh.
The finance department has sanctioned Rs 1,893 crore for social welfare pensions, and Rs 253 crore to welfare boards; a total of Rs 2,146 crore. The welfare boards pay two kinds of pensions. One kind is given with the assistance of the state government.
Over seven lakh receive such pensions, and this includes those getting farmers' pension. The second kind is paid independently by the welfare boards without the assistance of the government. 3.5 lakh benefit from this. The disbursal of both these welfare board pensions began on Tuesday.
The finance minister termed “baseless” the charge that pension distribution was put on hold on the grounds that mustering (the annual verification process to weed out the undeserving) had not been completed. “No such orders have been issued.
Mustering needs to be completed only before the disbursal of the round of pensions,” the minister said.