Unheeded woes of J&K pensioners

By Krishan Singh. Dated: 9/9/2019 11:52:43 PM

In the fast changing economic scenario in the State of J&K State and elsewhere in the country elderly people have always been at the receiving end of all kinds of humiliation and harassment. They have been categorized into super senior citizens (above 80 years of age) and senior citizens (above 60). In order to make the autumn of their lives a bit comfortable, certain amenities and facilities have been provided to them by the banks and many other agencies of India. But in J&K State the things are moving in opposite direction due to which the elderly pensioners treated as a spent force and are being deprived of amenities and facilities that are long over due to them, thus allowing their hardships to prolong.
There are pressing demands which need the priority attention of the Governor's Administration to ease miseries and hardships of pensioners.
While implementing the recommendations of 6th pay commission in the State, D.A arrears of January 2009 installment were withheld from January to June 2009 in respect of the employees and pensioners till the modalities for payment of 6th CPC arrears are evolved. The Government later issued orders for payment of arrears in five annual installments. The D.A arrears, as mentioned above, were released in respect of employees and even for the post 2006 pensioners but no orders have so far been issued for payment of D.A arrears for the period from January to June 2009 to pre-2006 pensioners. It is difficult to understand why the pensioners are being subjected to such a long agonizing wait.
The posts of section officers along with certain posts of Accounts, Statistical, Sheep/ Animal and other departments were upgraded notionally from 01-01-1996 and monetarily from 19-02-2003. Those who have retired after 19-02-2003 or are still in service have not been benefited whereas those who have retired during the period from 01-01-1996 to 19-02-2003 are also due for same benefit notionally from 01-01-1996 to 19-02-2003. Monetarily, however, they have not so far been provided this benefit. Similarily head / senior and junior assistant in the clerical cadre were upgraded with prospective effect where as the same are required to be upgraded notionally from 1-1-1996 and monetarily from 19-2-2003.
The pensioners submitted their cases for revision of their pension under formulation II of Govt. order No. 222-F of 2018 to the office of Account General Jammu/ Srinagar through proper channel long back. The pensioners alleged that their cases are being taken up in a pick and chose manner. The Dy. Accountant General (Pension ) Jammu, after hearing one deputation of pensioners, stated that the A.G Office has paucity of staff as of now but it is being augmented soon hoping that pension revision cases will be handled expeditiously.
The previous govt. launched group Mediclaim Insurance Policy in the state for employees, pensioners and others. The annual premium was very high for employees and much higher for the pensioners. First installment of Annual Premium was, however, deducted from the employees and a large number of pensioners also deposited the first Installment in order to avail the option of health Insurance benefits . The Governor later scrapped the scheme lock stock and barrel. Neither the employees and pensioners have been provided health Insurance cover nor the first installment of annual premium has been paid back to them. They are thus feeling ditched and aggrieved on this account. The authorities should be asked to pay back the amount deducted forthwith as there is no fun to keep that amount in state exchequer any longer.
Through a circular issued recently by the Finance Department on 16-05-2019 it has been clarified that vide Govt. Order No. 555-FD of 2018 dated 28-12-2018 the Group Mediclaim Insurance policy was terminated and the beneficiaries covered under the said policy were allowed to avail the benefits for a period of 3 months w.e.f Ist October 2018 to midnight 31 December 2018 as the government paid its share of premium on behalf of enrolled employees for three months only. As per the clause 29, "Run off period" of the agreement executed on 15-10-2018 all expenses incurred in respect of hospitalization that took place till date. Date of cancellation / expiry of the policy is payable and post hospitalization period of sixty days in such cases shall be reckoned from the respective date of discharge form the hospital. The "run of period" expired on 1st of March 2019 and a further extension of 30 days for submission of claim document, claim intimation was expected till 31th of March 2019 by the appointed TPAs. Now further claim shall be entertained.
This kind of information has reached every beneficiary and moreover, the order is silent about the pensioners who opted for this policy and have paid the first installment as well of the annual premium. Majority of the insurant employees and pensioners might not have been able to avail the benefit of the policy in absence of wide publicity it was required to be given by the concerned authorities.
The pension, pensionary and all other benefits may be exempted from paying Income Tax by the pensioners of all ages in view of the income ceiling for the economically weaker section (EWS) has been raised from Rs.4.5 lakh to Rs. 8 lakh by the Union Government and the Governor's administration in J&K State as well.
To ameliorate the condition of the pensioners, very little has been done by successive governments. It was after persistent efforts of several employees organizations that some minimal relief came from the governments in the past. Notable has been the struggle of the All J&K Low Paid Employees Federation headed by a veteran trade Union leader Com. Abdul Majid Khan to which the J&K State Pensioners Association is affiliated who highlighted the grievances of pensioners along with common as well as sectional demands of employees through rallies , dharnas, demonstrations and deputations. After their persistent efforts, the previous government issued orders to raise pension by 20,30,40,50 & 100 percent after the age of 80, 85, 90, 95 & 100 years of age of Pensioners on central pattern, adopted while implementing the recommendations of 6th C.P.C. Moreover, the central Govt. paid 7th CPC arrears to its employees and pensioners in one installment whiles the State Govt. issued orders for the payment thereof in three six monthly installments.
The State government modified its orders stating that pensioners over 80 years of age will get arrears in one installment but that too is not being implemented in letter and spirit. The Association still insists that the pensioners irrespective of their age and the employees may be paid the arrears on central pattern. The pensioners' woes are too many and the struggle for justice goes on.
(The author is president, J&K State Pensioners Association, Jammu.)



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