Bengaluru, July 27: They are Bengaluru's underbelly--the poor, marginalised, homeless and disabled--who have been almost forgotten by the government, corporates and civil society of India's IT hub.
On Thursday, a group of 50-odd people, including transgenders, people living with HIV and slum dwellers, came together at Jain University in the city to narrate their plight as they have been denied their monthly stipend under various government pension schemes meant for poor and marginalised sections of society.
The event, Karnataka Pension Parishad, was organised by the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) in association with the Community Radio Active and the Sahaya Single Window to highlight how denial of pension to these people have left them in lurch.
One grouse that all the participants at the pension meeting had was that office bearers of 'Nadakacheri' (deputy tahasildar's office), which approves their pensions after they submit the required documents, are either insensitive or corrupt to deny them their dues.
Many of the participants at the pension meeting told OneIndia that even after getting pension for a couple of years, suddenly the officials have stopped giving them their monthly stipend.
"I have all the documents and that is why my pension was approved. But for the last five months I am not getting my monthly pension of Rs 600," said Saraswati (70), a widow, who stays in Ambedkar Nagar slum in the city.
As she is not getting her widow pension, Saraswati, who recently had a heart surgery, is finding it difficult to pay her medical bills. "In today's time Rs 600 is a very small amount, but for a poor, unemployed and old woman like me that amount is important as it take cares of many of my requirements," added Saraswati, whose husband had died a few years ago and her son is staying separately.
When asked why her pension was suddenly stopped, Saraswati said that as she was unwell for two months, during the surgery, and could not go to the post office branch from where she was getting her pension for verification, officials thought she does not need the money.
"I have visited the post office several times, but they are not listening to me," she said with helplessness in her eyes.
Similarly, Ramakka in her late fifties told OneIndia that her 35-year-old disabled son has stopped getting his monthly pension of Rs 500. With tears in her eyes, Ramakka, a resident of Aswath Nagar, said that her family is very poor and taking care of her disabled son is very difficult.
Officials of the CFAR said that there are many reasons why pension is being either not approved or stopped abruptly to the poor and marginalised.
"First, there is a lack of awareness about schemes among the poor and needy. Then they don't have all the documents needed to become beneficiaries of the schemes. How on earth a homeless will have documents like Aadhaar card or BPL card?" questioned CFAR programme manager Prabhanand Hegde.
In order to solve the problem, the CFAR wants that surveys of all slums in the city should be done to identify the beneficiaries. "We also want an alternative mechanism to issue income certificates and monthly pension adalat by deputy tahasildars is a must," added Hegde.
Another woman (we are not revealing her name to protect her identity), who is HIV positive, told OneIndia that she has lost her husband 20 years ago and is staying with her son, who is also HIV positive.
"I have not received any help from the government at all. I am a widow and HIV positive. I am entitled to get pension. I had applied for my pension twice in the last 20 years, but officials have rejected my applications. Now, again I have applied for pension and the officials are questioning me why I did not apply for pension earlier, whereas it is their mistake that they had rejected by previous applications," she added.