Pension fora leaders to fly at no cost

This could be music to the ears of leaders of pensioners’ associations: Elderly leaders from the South and the East could fly to Delhi on government expense to attend meetings that decide on issues related to lakhs of pensioners.

The Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW) under the Ministry of Personnel has now moved a proposal to provide airfare for leaders of these associations to come to Delhi to attend meetings of the Standing Committee on Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA).

The reasoning given by the DoPPW, the organiser of the SCOVA meetings, is that these people are advanced in age and not in robust-enough health to withstand the strains associated with road or rail journeys, especially when such travel extends beyond 24 hours and 1,000 km.

As of now, they are only entitled to train fare.

“The plight of those members suffering from old-age ailments needs no explanation. Journey by air, even from a place in the southernmost part of the country, to the capital city of New Delhi may not take more than three hours.

Further, journey by air is not as tedious as journey by rail, and therefore preferable,” the agenda note prepared by the DoPPW has said.

The issue will be discussed at a SCOVA meeting on February 5 in the presence of Minister of Personnel, Pension and Personal Grievances V Naraya­nasamy and senior officials from various ministries and departments, like finance and railways.

The department also said non-official members who attend SCOVA meetings as representatives of pensioners’ associations in the southern part of the country have to travel above 2,000 km to reach New Delhi, and the time taken for the train journey is more than 40 hours.

Similarly, it said members from western India and some places in the East have to travel above 1,000 km and the period of journey, if by train, is more than 24 hours.

The department wants that non-official members travelling above 1,000 km to attend SCOVA meetings should be “considered sympathetically and as a special case, they should be granted actual travelling expenses incurred when journeying by air, without limiting their claim to the train fare by entitled class”.

If this proposal is accepted, the department feels, it would go a long way in helping pensioners’ associations, since the organisations have to meet extra expenditure if the travelling allowance (TA) claim of their represe­n­tatives is restricted to train fare.

The department has also cited Supplementary Rule 190(b), which says a competent authority may, in its discretion, grant to a person concerned his actual travelling, hotel and carriage expenses instead of TA under that clause, if it considers that such allowance would be inadequate. It also said as per the provisions of an order of October 1982, journey by train by non-officials is compulsory only when the distance travelled is up to 500 km and the journey is overnight.

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