Hundreds of people representing various civil society groups participated in the State-level Public Consultation on Social Security issues related to pension held on January 29th at Jain University, Palace Road, Bengaluru.
V Srinivas Prasad, Minister for Revenue, Government of Karnataka, said that the state government has been disbursing pension to about 47 lakh people in the state. The pension schemes cover widows, differently-abled persons, the elderly and unmarried single women from the marginalised communities in the state. The State government is contemplating to increase the minimum pension from Rs 200 to Rs 500. Apart from this, the State government is planning to provide employment and pension for the transgenders and other sexual minorities in the state.
Nikhil Dey, Founder Member, National Pension Parishad and social activist of Mazdoor Kisan Shakthi Sangathan (MKSS), shared about the National Campiagn of Pension Parishad which has been successful in bringing several progressive measures in various states with regard to access to pension benefits of the marginalised communities in the country. He appealed to the Minister for Revenue, to facilitate a “State-Level Consultation on Pensions in Karnataka”. He assured that Pension Parishad would bring in delegates/ government officials from various states to help the State Government to adopt the best practices of other States in ensuring social security to the people in the state.
Kathyayini Chamaraj, Executive Trustee of CIVIC and member, Karnataka State Pension Parishad, presented the various issues faced by senior citizens and the marginalised in accessing pensions in the state. She lamented that the Revenue Department was still following the antediluvian poverty lines of Rs 17,000 and Rs 12,000 for urban and rural areas respectively, which even the Food Department had discarded two years ago. She called for near-universalisation of pension schemes, excluding those who paid income taxes or were receiving other pensions from the government. She touched on the problems faced by pensioners in the Revenue department, Treasury and the postal department. She urged the officials of the government departments to inform the pension applicants about the status of the applications and reasons for rejecting the application by sending SMS messages to the applicants. She called for a single-window agency for processing applications and delivering pensions, regular ‘adalats’ to be held at hobli and ward level to address grievances of pensioners.
Nalini Shekar, State Convenor, Karnataka State Pension Parishad, appealed to the officials to conduct camps so that the process of scrutinising the application, verification and sending sanction orders can be implemented in a rapid manner.
Shivaprasad, Director, Revenue Department, Uma Devi, Treasury department, Veena, Post Master-General, Karnataka Postal Circle, Shama Rao, Shekar, Tahasildar, Dasappa, Assistant Tahasildar, Rihana were officials who answered the queries posed by the participants at the consultation.