Mokokchung, December 6 (MExN): Alleging ‘harassment’ of senior pensioners by government officials and the State Bank of India (SBI), the National People’s Party (NPP) Mokokchung district has expressed disappointment.
In a press statement issued on December 4, the NPP Mokokchung unit stated that the government has made it mandatory for the old people to procure and submit a life certificate every year in order to keep receiving their pensions.
It added that every year ‘old and frail pensioners’ queue outside the Treasury Offices and various branches of SBI to collect or submit their life certificates.
“How can the government and the State Bank of India expect every senior citizen to come in person and appear before the treasury or bank officials when many of them are suffering from old age ailments and are bed-ridden?” it questioned.
It urged the officials to be emphatic towards the old pensioners who live in the far flung and rural areas and also asked not to harass them especially during the pandemic by “forcing them to appear in person for collecting and submitting their life certificates.”
While acknowledging the initiative of the Government of India in opening an online application and submission of life certificates, the NPP Mokokchung wondered how the poor and helpless senior citizens “some of whom do not even know how to operate a simple key pad mobile phone,” could make use of the online platform. It also highlighted other constraints that the senior citizens could face- eye-sight problems, network connectivity issues and some who cannot afford to buy smartphones etc.
In this regard, the NPP Mokokchung unit suggested the government to come up with a plan to take the pension services to the old people instead of making them come to the offices or banks.
“This will definitely ensure that the credibility of the process of life certificate is also dealt with genuinely while also ensuring that the senior citizens are not unduly harassed in the name of a certificate,” it added.
It also suggested that the SBI could start a door-to-door service or set up Customer Service Points in all the villages whereby some of the bank employees can be deputed for reaching out to the old pensioners for any official formalities including life certificate.
“Another alternative could be to entrust the local authorities including the Village Councils, GBs, Pastors, etc. to take the onus and responsibility of certifying the life certificates by physical verifying the old age people in their own respective villages or colonies,” it suggested.
It further stated that “…it is high time for those in power and credible positions to double check their priorities and give their best services for the public.”