Delhi government’s pension scheme for senior citizens is likely to add about 35,000 more beneficiaries in the next few months as the Social Welfare Department prepares to fill the empty spots in order to fully use its capacity of 5.30 lakh.
“We are in the process of identifying how many of the existing beneficiaries have passed away. At the same time, we are preparing to add 35,000 new pensioners. The work should be complete in two months,” Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam said.
Last week, addressing the Delhi Assembly, Mr. Gautam said the senior citizens pension scheme had 4.32 lakh beneficiaries at present, when a total of 5.30 lakh are allowed.
He also added that the government was in the process of adding an approximate of 63,000 beneficiaries.
The remaining slots – between 34,000 to 35,000 (the number is dynamic as beneficiaries tend to move away or pass away) – would be opened for applications in two months, Mr. Gautam said. Last year, the government had started taking applications for new pensioners.
According to the Financial Assistance Section of the Social Welfare Department, a total of 96,315 applications had been received through the e-District portal as on April 2. Of the 90,316 applications that were complete, 87,085 had been scrutinised and processed. A total of 68,466 applications had been sanctioned for payments. Payments for 65,917 had been released.
Though the number of pensioners has gone up in the past year and is likely to increase this year too, many of the beneficiaries have been facing problems in getting the monthly payments.
Addressing concerns raised by MLAs during a discussion on pensions in the Assembly last week, the Social Welfare Minister said that in many cases the pensions were being transferred into the Aadhaar-linked accounts of the beneficiaries, and not in their accounts registered for the scheme.
According to data from the Social Welfare Department, 3.32 lakh beneficiaries had UID-based payments as on March 31.
Mr. Gautam said banks also returned pensions in cases where the beneficiaries had not linked their Aadhaar details with their accounts.
He added that the payments were made after addressing the issues.
After a Cabinet decision in January 2017, the Delhi government had increased pensions for those in the 60-69 years age bracket from ₹1,000 to ₹2,000 a month and for those 70 years and above, from ₹1,500 to ₹2,500 a month.
The hiked rates were applicable to only those who received their payments through direct benefit transfer after linking Aadhaar.
Of the existing beneficiaries, about 76% are receiving the enhanced rates.
To be eligible for the scheme, an applicant has to be over 60 years in age, a resident of Delhi for the past five years and someone whose annual family income is not more than ₹1 lakh.
In 2017-2018, the budget allocation for the scheme was ₹1,065 crore and ₹1,031.74 crore had been spent as on March 31, according to the department.