Telangana pension scheme: No ‘asara’ for lakhs of eligible beneficiaries

The pension is given to people who are over 57 years of age, widows, disabled, toddy-tappers among others

Hyderabad: Poturi Venkatamma and Ginjupalli Krishnaiah from Khammam district, Rachapalli Pochamma from Karimnagar and Vadla Mallesham from Vikarabad district could not be more different from one another. But they, as do 3,15,258 others in Telangana, have one thing in common that binds them in misery-a seemingly interminable wait for getting Aasara pensions from the state government.

The pension is given to people who are over 57 years of age, widows, disabled, toddy-tappers, weavers, beedi workers, single women, and AIDS and filariasis patients.

Alas, many are waiting for the largesse for more than three years now. It is a sad commentary on the state-of-affairs that they have been reduced to begging to eke out a living, as in the case of 55-year-old Rachapalli Pochamma from Bijigiri Sharif village of Jammikunta mandal in Karimnagar district.

“I had applied more than three years back for a widow pension. I reminded village panchayat officials on umpteen occasions but they never gave any categorical assurances,” Pochamma told Deccan Chronicle. Her plight is such that in order to survive she goes around begging for a morsel. Buying medicines that she requires regularly is almost a luxury for Pochamma, who lives alone.

For 68-year-old Vadla Mallesham from Vikarabad, the situation is even more traumatic. Suffering from a disability that rendered him mute, he needs someone to do the talking on his behalf every time he has to make a case for his application to be processed for getting disability pension.

When Deccan Chronicle reached out to find out about the status of his application, he depended on his son. It emerged that Mallesham was receiving disability pension till 2014 but that was stopped unceremoniously. And now, his application for a pension is among the lakhs awaiting approval from the government, his son pointed out.

Several Aasara pension applicants with whom DC spoke had similar tragic tales even as the benefits remain elusive. While the official figure of those waiting to receive Aasara pensions from the state stands at 3,15,262, obtained through an RTI request filed by Rythu Swarajya Vedika, this number does not include nearly 7,80,000 old-age pension applications that got added to the pending list after the state government reduced the eligibility criteria to 57 years from 65 years.

“This section of applicants saw the biggest rise,” said Bannuru Kondal Reddy, who filed the RTI inquiry, adding “nearly eight lakh additional applicants are not being reflected in the official records.”

According to him, all nine categories of Aasara pension applicants are waiting for three and a half years for the succour. “They are eligible to receive dues for that period also. Unfortunately, there are no assurances about when the disbursements would commence,” he said.

Currently, a total of 36,42,999 beneficiaries receive Aasara pensions, including 10,86,782 old-age pensions, 13,93,503 widows and 4,68,684 disabled persons with beneficiaries from other categories making up the rest.

(Inputs from Puli Sharath Kumar in Karimnagar, Pillalamarri Srinivas in Adilabad, Ravindra Seshu in Khammam and Naveen Kumar in Vikarabad)

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