Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has decided to stop payment of social security pension in the state from April 2020 if the pensioners fail to submit their Aadhaar details to the government.
As per the government plan, it has decided to exclude people from pension benefits and other rights if they defy mandatory orders.
In a set of directions issued by the State Department of Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD), all the 30 District Collectors in the state have been directed to stop pensions for the elderly, widows, differently-abled and others if they fail to link their Aadhaar number with pension provided by the government.
“Starting from April 1, 2020 pensions under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) and Madhu Babu Pension Yojana (MBPY) will not be disbursed without Aadhaar,” the directions from Bhaskar Sarma, Principal Secretary of SSEPD Department, to all the District Collectors read.
The state government has been trying to complete 100 per cent Aadhar linking for the central government as well as state government pension schemes. In spite of orders to all districts to complete 100 per cent Aadhaar-seeding of pension accounts by the end of December 2019, the pensioners could not comply with the official requirement.
The SSEPD department is the nodal unit in the state working towards disbursement of pensions through the District Social Security Officers (DSSOs). In the past few years, the Rural Development Ministry and other Central government ministries have been insisting on the state and the SSEPD department to shift towards Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of pensions and ensure 100 per cent Aadhaar seeding of pensions for the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) database.
Under the NSAP, national pensions’ schemes for the widows, elderly and others are provided under the Indira Gandhi Pension Yojana. On the other hand, the state’s Madhu Babu Pension Yojana (MBPY) caters to the elderly, widows, differently-abled and people living with HIV and others.
In the recent communication the department claimed that till now 91% of NSAP pension accounts and 73 per cent of MBPY pension accounts have been linked with Aadhaar. The department has now set the target of 100 per cent seeding by the March 15, 2020.
It has now asked the Collectors to ask all the pensioners to bring their Aadhar cards when coming to collect their pensions and ensure early completion of the target. It has also asked the Block Officers to get the people without Aadhar mobilised to give assistance for Aadhaar data.
The state government, however, defended the stand and clarified that by the end of March 2019-20 all pensioners will be equipped with Aadhaar numbers and that there is no need to panic. The department hoped that there may not be any exclusion or deprivation of rights.
Talking to Orissa POST, Principal Secretary Bhaskar Jyoti Sarma allayed public fears saying, “This is not the whole story. Decision is that those beneficiaries without Aadhaar connection will be provided with Aadhaar cards by March 15, 2020. That means all pensioners will have Aadhaar by March 31,2020. This is an in-principle decision taken by the state government.”