Thiruvananthapuram: Over 75,000 pensioners have died in Kerala without fully receiving the pension revision arrears that the state government has withheld.
As per the information released by the State Treasury Directorate under the RTI Act, 77,000 pensioners passed away during the period from July 2019 to April 2023. Each one of them should have received Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000 as two installment arrears. These individuals did not get the money that would have benefited them in medical emergencies such as surgeries.
At the end of the first Pinarayi Vijayan government, the authorities revised the salary and pension of state government employees with retrospective effect from July 1, 2019. It was promised at the time that the pension revision arrears would be paid in four installments, but only two installments were paid.
The promise was to give them the revision arrears in August and November of 2021. Due to an acute financial crisis, the disbursal of the third installment was deferred to the last financial year (2022–23) and the fourth one to this financial year (2023–24). However, these have so far not been disbursed.
Finance minister K N Balagopal said in the Assembly that a sum of Rs 2,800 crore is yet to be disbursed on this count. Apart from this, the government owes Rs 1,400 crore as dearness allowance arrears.
When the government grants money to the deceased, their nominee can receive it. If the nominee too is not alive, the rightful and legal heir can get a certificate from the tahsildar, proving his status, and receive the money.
Once Treasury Department officials receive the information that a pensioner is dead, they will enter it on the Pension Information Management System (PIMS) and stop the disbursal of the pension. The information collected from PIMS on this score has been used by the Treasury Directorate to give the answer to the RTI application submitted by Sreekumar Kottarathil, who is the Kerala State Pensioners Sangh state general secretary.
No leniency to those who have crossed 70
Various pensioners’ associations have written to the government, demanding to allow pension arrears at least for those who have crossed 70 years of age.
However, there were no measures on the part of the authorities. If this suggestion were implemented, there wouldn’t be so many pensioners dying without getting the arrears.