SOCIAL SECURITY SCAM: Over 1 lakh bogus pensioners detected in Punjab

DW Bureau / Chandigarh

A comprehensive verification covering 19.87 lakh beneficiaries of various social security pension schemes as on October 6, 2017 has revealed that around one lakh beneficiaries were not eligible to receive the pensions. The State government had been suffering a loss of over Rs 75 crore every year on account of the payment to these ineligible pensioners, sources said.

Soon after assuming office, the Capt Amarinder Government had ordered 100 per cent verification of these pension cases, amid allegations that the outgoing SAD-BJP government had got these pensions sanctioned to non-eligible beneficiaries. Of the total 19.87 lakh beneficiaries, the Government has completed verification of 18.27 lakh pensioners, out of which only 15.69 lakh have been found to be eligible.

According to the official data, the Government has detected 41,970 cases of underage pensioners, while 10,184 cases of beneficiaries who had higher than threshold income came to light. It was also found that 29,987 persons drawing pensions had more than the stipulated land holding.

It is learnt that the Director, Social Security, has stopped payment to these beneficiaries from April 1, 2017. The Government has already deleted the names of 64,810 pensioners on account of their death, whereas 77,077 beneficiaries did not turn up personally during the verification process. The Government also detected 37,547 cases of wrong addresses and most of these beneficiaries may turn out to be bogus claimants. Each such beneficiary gets a pension of Rs 750 per month. The Government pays social security pensions amounting to around Rs 150 crore every month.

Sources said the Chief Secretary had demi-officially instructed all Deputy Commissioners to complete the verification at the earliest. The State government is soon expected to take a policy decision and also decide whether any penal action is to be initiated against the non-eligible beneficiaries and the officials who made wrong verifications. A senior Government officer informed Daily World that further release of the pensions will be made through automatic electronic transfers of funds. “This will also weed out duplicate and fake cases which may have escaped the verification process,” he added.

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