Kashmir's old age pensioners face hurdles in online registration

TNN Bureau. Updated: 11/13/2022 4:18:35 PM Business and Economy

Srinagar, Nov 13: Thousands of old age pensioners in Kashmir have been running from pillar to post to ensure they continue receiving the meagre government financial support as the payment process has been moved to online mode.

Rahti, a 75-year-old widow from the Saida Kadal area of the city, said she has been visiting the Social Welfare Office here for the past three days with all documents to prove her eligibility for the pension that she has been drawing for many years now.

"We were told to update our details here or else we would not get our pension," Rahti said. However, she returned home each day without getting her details uploaded to the official network, which would ensure she keeps receiving her monthly assistance of Rs 1,000.

Several district social welfare officers PTI spoke to said pensioners are having to undergo the grind because of insufficient staff at the registration counters.

Rahti said the monthly assistance she receives from the government was all she had to survive on. "The queue is too long, there are so many people here waiting to update their details. I will try again on Monday," she said while heading home after another day of efforts ended in vain.

Almost every other elderly person turning up to get their details registered for online payment of old age pension has a similar story to share.

Ghulam Rasool from the Bemina area of the city said the procedure was cumbersome.

"I have a disability which is why I cannot work. This pension is my only sustenance. I was told to get a disability certificate from the chief medical officer (CMO)," he said.

Rasool said he would be lucky if he could get the disability certificate in just two visits to the CMO's office.

Mughali, a frail looking elderly woman hailing from a village in Ganderbal, was upset as she was turned back from the registration counter after waiting for several hours in the queue.

She was told to get an age certificate from the block medical officer (BMO). "Khabar su kati chu behwaan (wonder where the BMO office is)," Mughali said as she left the premises.

Among other changes brought to the pension scheme, a woman receiving widow pension will have to get an unmarried certificate every three years to be eligible for the monetary assistance.

While the director of social welfare did not respond to calls, several district social welfare officers said there was insufficient staff at the registration counters.

Many applicants do not have all documents needed to register for online transfer of pension.

"It is not easy to make them understand that technology does not have emotions. A case will be processed only after all documents are complete," one of the officers said, on the condition of anonymity.

He said while it was smoother ride for fresh applicants, existing pensioners have panicked because of the change in rules.

"All the existing pensioners have turned up together to get themselves enrolled for the online transfer. Either there should have been more personnel to handle the heavy rush or the pensioners should have been asked to come in batches," he added.


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