The Defence Ministry pointed to teething problems at the pensioners’ end. (Representational)
In cheerful news for former defence personnel who haven’t yet received their pensions for April, the government today clarified that it will be credited to them today. The Defence Ministry pointed to teething problems faced by pensioners during the digitisation and modernisation process that is currently underway as the cause for the unexpected delay. A “one-time special waiver” has been approved so that all pensioners can receive their pending pensions without further delay.
The announcement was made a couple of hours after Congress MP Rahul Gandhi attacked the Centre over the non-payment of pensions. Linking it with the “betrayal” over the One Rank One Pension scheme, Mr Gandhi said the PM Modi-led government is adopting a policy of “All Rank, NO Pension”. He added that “insult” to soldiers is an insult to the country and demanded immediate release of pending payment.
‘One Rank, One Pension’ के धोखे के बाद अब मोदी सरकार ‘All Rank, NO Pension’ की नीति अपना रही है।
सैनिकों का अपमान देश का अपमान है। सरकार को पूर्व सैनिकों की पेंशन जल्द से जल्द देनी चाहिए। pic.twitter.com/gNKw1Mk9RT
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 4, 2022
The issue came to wider public attention after Lieutenant General Deependra Singh Hooda sounded the resentment of veterans on Twitter. Tagging Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, he requested him to intervene. Taking a swipe at the Centre, he asked “Is this how we say ‘Thank you for your service to the nation’?”
Veterans complaining of pension stopped without explanation. For most, this is the only source of income. Is this how the we say ‘Thank you for your service to the nation’? Request @rajnathsingh to intervene.
— Lt Gen D S Hooda (@LtGenHooda) May 3, 2022
The government uses SPARSH, a digital pension disbursement system for defence personnel, which requires all pensioners to complete identification every year to receive the monthly pension. This is usually done in November by all banks acting as Pension Disbursing Agencies but the government extended the deadline to March 31, 2022, due to the COVID situation.
“However, during the processing of pension for the month of April 2022, it came to light that the annual identification of around 3.3 lakh pensioners was not updated,” a government release said.
The government then sent a list to all Pension Disbursing Banks to share updated identification data and as a result identification status of more than 2.65 lakh pensioners was updated on SPARSH by April 25, 2022, leading to the successful processing of pensions for all these pensioners, it said.
However, banks could not confirm identification for 58,275 pensioners and their identification wasn’t received directly on SPARSH by the time of monthly closing. “Hence, these pensioners were not paid their April pension by April 30, 2022,” it said.
To ease the hardship on these pensioners, the government has approved a “one-time special waiver” and allowed them to get their identification done by May 25. Their pensions will be released by the end of the day today.
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