Amid the lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic, the Himachal Pradesh government has provided a special relief to 5.69 lakh social security pensioners by making an advance payment of Rs 217.86 crore, officials said on Thursday. The pension has been given for six months in advance for those settled in remote areas and three months to other beneficiaries.
It was a big challenge to disburse the pension, particularly those residing in the remote areas, due to the lockdown, a government official said. But it has been performed effectively by the state Social Justice and Empowerment Department and the Indian Postal Service Department.
It brought cheers on the face of wizened Shankaru Devi, 90, of Guhan village in Jaisinghpur area in the Kangra district when the postman reached her home amid the curfew with a pension of Rs 4,500 for three months that too in advance.
The social security pension is the only financial support for her who is alone at home in this old age. She manages her medicines and food with the monthly pension.
Shankaru Devi is not an exception. As per the official records, there are 3.85 lakh old age people in the state who are entitled for pension of Rs 154.24 crore.
In addition, about 1.20 lakh widows have been provided social security pension of Rs 40.21 crore, while 63,495 persons with disabilities have been issued social security pension of Rs 23 crore.
Providing door-to-door pension to the beneficiaries in remote areas during the curfew has been a daunting task which has been carried out efficiently by the postal department.
At present, there are 4.75 lakh savings accounts in the post offices of the social security pension beneficiaries and 93,768 beneficiaries have accounts in banks in the state.
In the tribal areas of Pangi, Bharmour, Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur districts, 14,379 social security pension beneficiaries have been provided the pension with an outlay of Rs 10.39 crore.
In this time of crisis, the timely and advance distribution of pension comes as a big succour for the elderly, in particular. During the lockdown, the state government led by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has also approved 43,026 new cases of pension.
Also, the social security pension of widows and the persons with disabilities have been increased from Rs 850 to Rs 1,000 per month from April 1.
In addition, in view of COVID-19 a total of 111,863 national social security beneficiaries of the state have been provided Rs 500 per beneficiary under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana by the Central government.
For this, Rs 5.59 crore has been sanctioned to the state. Additional Rs 500 per beneficiary will be released to these beneficiaries soon, said an official.
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