Old age pension: A distant dream

(image) Bhubaneswar: Jhulalata Prusty, in her late seventies, who had lost her husband 20 years back, is counting her days in abject poverty. A resident of Chhapada village under Raghunathpur block in Jagtsinghpur district, only 50 km from the capital city Bhubaneshwar, Jhulalata is still waiting to avail her widow and old age pension.

She has applied for that in the block office, gone there for several times, but despite her best efforts she had returned in empty hands. This helpless lady has now no option but to blame her destiny. “I had applied for “bhatta” 10 years back. Everybody assures me that I would get it soon. But nothing happens”, sobbed Jhulalata.

Jhulalata is only a case in point in Jeypore village. A number of beneficiaries, who have already crossed their seventies, do accomplish the same fate like Jhulalata, live in wretched condition. The lives of these septuagenarian persons have become hell, all due to bureaucratic apathy. They have been repeatedly pursuing the matter in the block office since a decade, but in vain.

“I had applied the form eight years back. I have met many people including our ward member after that. But I am yet to receive “bhatta”. I live in wretched condition because of poor financial conditions,” Dhuleswar Sahu of Jeypore said with an agony. 

But persons in office have a different story to narrate. The block development officer and the block chairman are of the view that their office is yet to receive application form of the beneficiaries haven’t reached our office properly. That’s why we are unable to process the matter. Steps are being taken to set right the issue”, said Debashis Tripathy, BDO, Raghunathpur block.

Whatever the cause might be the poor beneficiaries have literally been deprived of their claims, each Rs 200 per month.  The government has been implementing series of welfare schemes for old age persons to help them lead a good life. But the schemes often miss many targeted beneficiaries due to bureaucratic hassles.