Hyderabad: Current beneficiaries of the Aasara pension scheme who pay property tax, own a motor vehicle, have a member of the family holding government job and pension in the city will not be eligible for the Aasara pension scheme.
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has embarked on a survey to identify the eligibility of beneficiaries of Aasara pension, as the government has decided to hike the pension from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,016 for elderly, widows, people with HIV-AIDS, incapacitated weavers and toddy tappers. The pension for specially-abled has been increased from Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,016.
By doubling the Aasara pension from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,016, and adding beneficiaries due to reduction in age from 60 to 58 years, the pension scheme has become a huge financial burden on the government. Hence attempts to cut down the number of beneficiaries.
The deputy project officers working in the urban community development (UCD) wing were asked to supervise the survey pertaining to identification of beneficiaries with the help of the revenue wing.
According to highly placed sources in the corporation, the higher authorities have given oral instructions to the deputy project officers in the UCD wing to take the help of bill collectors who are well versed in property tax collection. Though the official circular ordered a survey to re-assess the structures where property tax fell between Rs 1,200 and Rs l lakh, unofficial instructions to the bill collectors were to identify the beneficiaries for Aasara pensions. Sources said that the bill collectors were asked to simultaneously take the complete details of the family members currently receiving Aasara pension from the government and check whether the beneficiary owns a two-wheeler, pays property tax in his name, any other family member holds a government job or receives pension, and if any member of the family is a practising professional or runs a big business.
They said that the higher authorities in the corporation in the name of reassessment of 2 lakh properties to either enhance the property tax or bring un-assessed properties into the tax net, were asked to prepare a list of true Aasara pension beneficiaries who fell in the above parameters.
Sources said that if the parameters prescribed by the civic body are taken into consideration, about 60 per cent of current beneficiaries will be ineligible for Aasara pensions.
The list prepared by the revenue wing in GHMC will be submitted to the state government for final approval pertaining to short-listing of true beneficiaries. The survey has been already completed in Musheerabad and Amberpet and not even 10 per cent of existing beneficiaries were eligible for Aasara pensions.
A senior GHMC official on condition of anonymity said that the corporation had embarked on a survey that was only to re-assess the structures whose property tax amount falls between Rs 1,200 and Rs 1 lakh to enhance the collection by Rs 200 crore.
He said that GHMC commissioner M. Dana Kishore had already issued a circular in this regard. When asked about a parallel survey to identify the true Aasara beneficiaries, the official without denying it said there have been no instructions from the head office.
Principal Secretary of Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Vikas Raj said that no special instructions were given to GHMC and the eligibility criteria would be the same across Telangana.
He said that district collectors and GHMC were given similar instructions pertaining to identification of Aasara beneficiaries and no special instructions were given to the civic body....