Flood relief at the cost of pensioners

Flood relief at the cost of pensioners

Without even bothering to intimate the pensioners well in advance, the government has decided not to release DA arrears of 5.25 per cent unless the pensioners expressed their unwillingness to the banks from where they draw pension. That unwillingness will have to be communicated to the banks in writing within December 15.

A recent government order has asked all pensioners to “give it in writing before December 15, 2009, if they are willing to contribute four months’ DA towards flood relief and rehabilitation work. The pensioners can submit this letter to their respective banks”.
The finance department says it took the decision following a representation by the Pensioners’ Association which allowed the government to appropriate the second installment of arrears to the Chief Minister’s Flood Relief Fund.

“The decision is not arbitrary. It was arrived at only after the Pensioner’s Association made a representation before us,” said finance secretary Ajay Seth. He said the decision needed wide publicity and that various newspapers and TV channels were being contacted. The banks have been asked to display notices at their respective branches, he said.

However, many pensioners are unaware of the decision. Y Vidyadhara, who retired from the education department, said he learnt about the government’s order from some other sources. “I have cataract and cannot read newspapers. Should I be punished because of my inability to read newspapers? I am not a serving officer who takes home a bulky salary along with bribes,” an agitated Vidyadhara told Deccan Herald.

So is the case with G Chandrashekhar, a retired DDPI who has been living in Hyderabad for the last few days.

“I am unaware of the decision and yet to get the details," he said.
The order came as a shock for pensioner Shailawathi, who served the Women’s Welfare Department. She learnt about the government order through one of her friends. She said she recently underwent a major surgery and was in dire need of money. “I took voluntary retirement owing to ill health and all my pension is going toward my treatment. Every bit of my earning is essential,” said Shailawathi. The lady is not even a member of the Pensioners' Association.

On the other hand, when Rajalakshmi, a pensioner from Chikmagalur went to Canara Bank to communicate her unwillingness, the bank authorities asked her to bring a letter from the treasury certifying that she was really unwilling. N Chandrashekhar, an activist, said the Finance Department’s order was retrovert. The government should have approached the pensioners who are willing to contribute their DA arrears instead of those that are unwilling, he felt.

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