DDPA says the fee is optional while Treasury says no such rule
Dimapur | March 15
Pay a visit to the district Treasury office in Dimapur on working days and one would be greeted to a sight of mostly senior citizens crowded around a window on the ground floor. The window acts as a temporary outlet of the Dimapur District Pensioners’ Association (DDPA). Here the pensioners are required to submit personal credentials purportedly for the purpose of availing certain benefits in line with a government directive concerning pension revision.
It looks fair enough but there is a catch. Alongwith the papers required for submission, the pensioners have to submit a fee of Rs. 2000 to the DDPA members manning the window. The money thus paid is accounted, as per the acknowledgement receipt given in return, “in connection with Pre-April, 2010 ROP for Pensioners /Family Pensioners” and conspicuously bears no official government insignia.
Some of the pensioners at the venue, who have paid the amount, were asked if they were aware as to the purpose of the fee paid. They barely had any idea. The common response was, “We were told it is for pension revision and so we paid” hardly with any questions asked.
Not all were compliant though. As one youth, who had come inquiring on behalf of his ailing father, said that he neither submitted the form nor paid the amount.
“I asked why they are charging Rs. 2000 but they could not give any concrete explanation,” said the youth, who identified himself as Alise Sangtam, a senior member of the Dimapur Eastern Naga Students Union. He said that he was then directed to approach the Treasury officers upstairs where “I was told the Treasury has no idea” as to what the fee is being charged for.
According to the youth, he will not pay the fee. So far as his knowledge of government procedure goes, he said that nobody other than the government or an authorised recognised government agency has the legal right to handle salary or pension related revision let alone charge suchlike fee.
Many like him had also chosen not to submit their forms until an official clarification was made about the extra unofficial charge.
The DDPA when approached and asked about its job in the arrangement, said that the association is only playing a mediating role to assist its members complete the paperwork. “We are simply helping the pensioners avail whatever arrears (pending benefits) are due to them,” explained the DDPA President.
Queried what the fee of Rs. 2000 is for, he regarded the payment as “optional.” He did not elaborate, however maintaining that the members (pensioners) can choose to not pay, and if they choose to pay, the amount paid is “refundable.”
According to the president, the papers/forms of individual members once collected will then be submitted in bulk to the Pension Disbursing Authority. He added that before submitting, the DDPA will sort the papers in the proper format and that they will be assisted by an individual, who he said has knowledge of how government papers are processed. Asked if the said individual is a government figure, he replied in the negative.
As for the Treasury office, the Senior Treasury Officer (STO) of the district said that the office has no knowledge about the purpose of the money being charged. “I really don’t understand why they are collecting it,” said the STO, while adding, there is no such rule.
Maintaining that the Treasury office has a section dedicated to processing pension related matters, he said that no organisation or body has been given the authority to review or process pension papers. He added that the prerogative lies with the state Finance department.
He further said that his office will not entertain forms issued by any outside authority other than those issued by the STO.
With regard to the DDPA outlet downstairs, the STO said that a room was allotted to the association for the welfare of pensioners.
The DDPA has meanwhile informed that submission of documents with regard to pre 2008 ROP/family pensioners has been extended upto March 31. This was informed in a press note from the DDPA President, I Meren Longchar today.