Fishermen all at sea over govt’s ‘criminal’ apathy- The New Indian Express

 ALAPPUZHA: Peter Charangattu,75,hailing from Arthunkal here perhaps best epitomises the travails encountered by the less fortunate sections of society often at the receiving end of government’s apathy.
A paraplegic now, Peter, who battled the waves to eke out a livelihood in his heyday, has not received the fishermen’s pension due to him for the last six months. Besides Peter, 2,500 bedridden fishers are being denied their lifeline.

“I had spent nearly 45 years of my life, fought misfortune, to eke out my life. The government has been paying me Rs 1,000 as monthly pension. It is more than six months since it stopped. Frankly, I have no idea when    it will resume,” he said.

“Since I am partially paralysed the dole from Kerala Fishermen’s Welfare Fund Board (KFWFB) is my sole source of income. At least Rs 500-600 is needed to purchase lifesaving drugs. The lack of finances forced me to cut down on medicine intake. My son contacted the Fisheries Department local office but they were in the dark regarding the delay. My son, who is a fisherman, is the family’s sole breadwinner. But his earnings are hardly enough to make ends meet,” he says.

However, KFWFB chairperson Saira Bhanu attributed the delay in disbursal of pension amount to the bedridden pensioners’ failure to submit the Aadhaar details.  

 “The government has made Aadhaar linkage mandatory for pension disbursement. We will not be able to disburse the pension amount if the pensioner failed to link Aadhaar with pension account. The process for Aadhaar linkage has been progressing and it will be completed by next month. However, the bedridden patients failed to produce Aadhaar and it resulted in the delay,” she said.  

“We have linked over 57,000 pensioners with Aadhaar. But majority of the bedridden patients does not have Aadhaar. The issue was taken up with the Finance Department and they had agreed to make a parallel arrangement for distributing pension to money order pensioners  without Aadhaar linkage. It may be resolved soon,” she said.

Meanwhile, Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation general secretary Jackson Pollayil said the bedridden patients could not take Aadhaar enrolment since they were unable to make the journey to Akshaya centres.Though the federation had urged the powers be to put in place a parallel system for the bedridden patients, the authorities turned a deaf ear.  

“Most of the bedridden patients are completely paralysed(quadriplegic) and hence unable to travel to the Akshaya centres for Aadhaar enrolment.  We have been asking the government and the KFWFB to make a parallel arrangement, but it fell on deaf ears.  The government should take a decision on disbursal of pensions to those without Aadhaar linkage,” he said.

Total pensioners: 63,664

Monthly allocation for pension: Rs 6.37 cr

Pension pending to bedridden patients: Rs 1.8 cr

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