World war veterans are paid just Rs 500 a month

Get lesser than minimum wage of rural job scheme beneficiaries

World war veterans are paid just Rs 500 a month

At a time when the NDA government has allocated Rs 200 crore for building a national war memorial, World War veterans are being offered a petty financial assistance of Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 per month by at least nine states.

The financial assistance is no match to even basic minimum wages states offer to unskilled workforce under the rural employment guarantee scheme. For instance, Kerala’s basic minimum wage is Rs 164 per day. Similarly, Uttar Pradesh gives Rs 125, Karnataka gives Rs 155 and West Bengal Rs 136 per day.

Since the veterans or their widows would hardly be a few in number since World War II lasted for six years beginning 1939 and World War I happened 25 years earlier, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence is learnt to have recommended that monitory help should be hiked between Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 per month to recognise sacrifices made by them.

The panel report will be tabled in Parliament on Monday. States provide remunerations to war heroes. While Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir and Mizoram are paying a pittance of Rs 500 to Rs 1,500, some states like Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh do not offer anything to them.

Others such as UP, Bihar, Maharastra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Union Territories like Delhi and Chandigarh are paying in the range of Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000.

To bring a parity in the schemes followed by different states, the parliamentary panel is said to have recommended handing over a decent amount per month, some where in the range of Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000. As per an year-old news report, four WW II veterans from Sikh regiment – Samitter Singh (100 years old), Gulzara Singh (93), Rajinder Singh Dutt (92) and Mukhtiar Singh Rai (89)— are living in Punjab.

A Chandigarh-based, WW II-era sepoy Narinder Singh, 96, reportedly did not get any financial benefit from the government. The panel was unhappy to learn that gallantry award winners were also not getting uniform financial package from states which it suggested should be enforced through a legislation.

The panel also recalled that the government has not set up “veteran commission” despite a long pending promise. The parliamentary watchdog suggested empowering such a commission with judicial powers and should be appointed at the earliest.
DH News Service

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