A DAY after a Punjab government advertisement projecting a Faridkot village as the face of its old age pension scheme — even though he was not a beneficiary — kicked up a row, the department of social security, Faridkot, reached out to the senior citizen Monday.
It is learnt the officers of the department themselves filled Shaila Singh’s and his wife ‘s pension forms. They said both will get the old age pension amount of Rs 500 every month starting August itself.
The full-page advertisement published Sunday in various newspapers had Shaila Singh’s photograph with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s photograph on “nine years of development” under Punjab government. Below his photograph was mentioned that old age pension has been doubled, from Rs 250 to Rs 500.
Early in the morning, district social security officer (DSSO) Chhinder Pal Kaur visited Chhaila’s house at Kaler village and later area tehsildar took pension forms to Chhaila Singh, 85, and his wife Jamir Kaur (80).
Shaila said he had applied for old age pension three-four times earlier as well, and had given his first application about eight years ago, but the DSSO told The Indian Express that “the man in question had applied for old age pension four times before but he was not eligible then as he had land more than 2.5 acres and pension benefits can be given to only those who have land ownership of 2 acres or less than that”.
The DSSO added: “We checked all the details of the person concerned and we have found that he had transferred all the land in the name of his sons in June 2016. Now that he has no land holding, he is eligible for pension. His and his wife’s forms have been accepted and we will start disbursing their pension soon,”she added.
Chhaila Singh, when contacted, said,”It is for the first time that officers came to my house. I had never been told the reason for rejection of my application form.’
After the officers visited his house, Chhaila visited the Faridkot DC office along with Congress’s Kisan cell incharge Inderjeet Singh Zira and other leaders.
Congress leaders demanded from Faridkot DC M S Jaggi that as advertisement claims success of social security schemes in the last nine years, Chhaila should be given pension benefits for those many years.
Village sarpanch Mela Singh added: “The picture of Chhaila Singh in Punjab Government’s advertisement is a big embarrassment for the government. Panchayat had sent his forms a number of times in the past, but pension had not been started, and now everything has been done in no time.”
The DSSO, meanwhile, clarified they had no role in getting the photographs published as they were done by the public relations department, Chandigarh.