Bhubaneswar: Notwithstanding 52 days since the state government allowed transgenders to be eligible for Madhu Babu Pension Yojana (MBPY), it has not yet enabled the system for accepting online applications from the community.
The State Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD) department is the nodal agency for social sector pensions. This department July 16 notified that the transgenders from economically weaker backgrounds would be allowed to apply for the MBPY. The department also amended its rules for their inclusion to the list of eligible beneficiaries for MBPY.
However, close to two months after the announcement, the SSEPD department website has no options for the transgenders to apply for the pension benefits. The department is yet to update their online system to add transgenders as one of the beneficiaries of MBPY where the community members can click and apply. Scrutiny by this correspondent claimed that the department website has now only eight pre-assigned categories which can fill the forms for MBPY. This option has no provision for pension for transgenders.
The eight eligible categories which can apply for the pensions under MBPY included—widows, elderly, differently-abled, leprosy patient, widow of HIV/AIDS deceased, disability pension for HIV/AIDS, unmarried women and divorcee women.
Several transgenders and advocacy groups have raised concerns about the lack of a system for the transgenders to apply for pensions especially during the last two months which was marked by lockdowns and shutdowns amid the COVID outbreak.
“Many transgender community members are finding it very tough to apply for the pension despite the government notifying it two months back. Many of us have visited the Puri District Social Security Officer (DSSO) for applying but neither online nor offline applications are entertained by the department,” said Piyanshi Das, President of Puri District Transgender Association. Many DSSOs are reported to be telling the applicants that they have not received any notice from the department for getting them registered for the pension.
Several other eligible members from the community from other districts also narrated the same ordeal. The department in their notification dated July 16, 2020 said that those from the community earning less than Rs 40,000 per annum and not having any family member with a government job or taxpayers would be eligible for the pensions.
The department, however, said that it would be available shortly, “We have recently announced the pensions for eligible members from the community. We are working on updating the website for online applications. The option for application for transgender pensions will be made available very shortly,” Bhaskar Sarma, SSEPD department secretary told Orissa POST.
Manish Kumar, OP