Dilip Kumar

Puri: The old age pension under various social security schemes are doled out to the persons who have long been dead. The matter sounds strange, but, RTI data revealed a massive scam in the pension scheme in Gop block of Puri district.

Rabindra Hota, a resident of Ishanpur panchayat under Gop block who is a real beneficiary said "I have been moving from pillar to post seeking old age pension in my name for the last three years, but to no avail, whereas pensions are being withdrawn in the name of dead persons, not only in our village but also in other neighbouring villages too."

The statement of Hota has aptly corroborated the information available in the RTI report, which is in possession of OTV.

As per the RTI data, the pension had been withdrawn till November in the name of one Ramachandra Khatoi of Mahanipur, who died on August 13 this year. Sources said his pension had been withdrawn, using his forged signature and thumb impression.

Even the widow of Ramachandra, who fulfils all criteria to get the benefit is also deprived of her right.

"The pension has been withdrawn in the name of my deceased husband and the amount has been taken away by unknown persons. Even I am also deprived of my right to get the government benefit under the social security scheme. Nobody with me is to help me out in this matter," said Shanti Khatoi, wife of deceased Ramachandra.

Such is the case of Sita Rout of Sundi village under the same block. As per reports, Sita had died on May 20, 2019. But the pension amount has been withdrawn in her name till November this year.

Similarly, Sailbala Parida of Arei village has been included under the old-age pension scheme in 2019. But, she was waiting for her pension book for almost a year as the same was not issued by the competent authority till November this year. Following a complaint in this regard, the Gop Block Development Officer (BDO) issued the book recently and released Rs 6,500 to her bank account just a day after issuing the passbook.

"I had been assured of the benefit for the last two years. But, I recently received some amount. Even they have not taken any documents from me," said Sailabala.

Locals alleged such discrepancies are the tip of an iceberg as there are so many such cases in the panchayat.

The local BDO, Diptirani Das, however, clarified "The pension amount had been credited to the accounts of some dead persons inadvertently but the same has already been recovered."