Saturday, October 17, 2015

Report on the 27th Meeting of the Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA) held on 13th October, 2015 By- K.B.Krishna Rao, Secretary who represented K P&T PA & Managing Committee Member BPS

The 27th Meeting of the Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA) organized by Government of India, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare, was held on 13th October, 2015 under the Chairmanship of Dr. Jitendra Singh, Hon'ble Minister of State, (Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions) at Meeting Hall No.3, Vigyan Bhavan , New Delhi. The meeting, which commenced at 11-15 a.m., was well attended by almost all of the Official Representatives and the Non- official Members of SCOVA. The meeting was being convened after the recent reconstitution of SCOVA in August, 2015 which saw a good number of new Pensioners’ Associations replacing the earlier teams, both in the Standing & Rotating groups. Representatives of newly nominated Pensioners’ Associations actively participated in the discussions and brought home their points well on several issues during the course of the discussions in the meeting. The new Secretary, DoP & PW, Sri Devendra Chaudhary, greeted all the Representatives.
2.          Smt. Vandana Sharma, Joint Secretary, DoP & PW, in her welcome address, greeted the Hon’ble Minister and the New Secretary who was attending the SCOVA meeting for the first time. She extended a warm welcome to the all the Official & Non official Representatives and said that it was her pleasure to welcome the new Pensioners’ Associations nominated to SCOVA. She said that SCOVA, under the able leadership of the Hon’ble Minister, has provided a  platform and an opportunity for the Pensioners’ Associations to share their views and have interactions on several issues concerning Pensioners and the Associations too have been playing useful role and have been giving valuable proposals / suggestions. She said that SCOVA has been taking up several fresh issues & has been effective in resolving some of the very difficult issues which have been pending for a considerable time. She said that during the meeting, the Pensioners’ Associations would be informed of the changes brought about in the policy matters in Pensioners’ Welfare since the last SCOVA Meeting.   
 3.         Sri  Devendra Chaudhary, Secretary, DoP&PW, in his address said that presence of Pensioners’ Representatives from all  corners of the Country was quite encouraging. He said that hard work of Associations in the cause of Pensioners’ welfare resulted in their nomination to SCOVA. He said that review of the items of previous SCOVA meetings has revealed that 50 issues are still pending resolution and he would convene a meeting of Departmental Representatives preferably on Saturdays to address the issues. He complimented CPAO for the good work done in issue of revised pension payment authorities for pre-2006 Pensioners. He said that still a few thousand cases are pending and sought the help of Pensioners’ Associations in getting the information needed to settle the pending pension & family pension cases and hoped to bring the pending cases to a zero level within a month or two. He also said that the grievances pending in Pensioners’ Portal should be resolved soon. He advised the Pensioners to utilise the services available in” Jeevan Pramaan” portal which are helpful to Pensioners especially the old Pensioners. Concluding his speech he said that” when we retire tomorrow we may also face the same problems which are now being faced by our elders” and therefore our “endeavour should be to address their problems”.  “ it is not for us just to get things done but to make things happen” .  
4.          Dr. Jitendra Singh, Hon’ble Minister, in his opening remarks, said that it had always been a pleasure for him to associate himself with seniors in the SCOVA during the past 16 months of the existence of the new Government. He said that the Pensioners’ Representatives are a distinguished class in themselves who are blessed with rich experience. They have reached a position in their lives which many in service are yet to reach. The wisdom they carry with them always puts them in an advantageous position over others. He said that now the number of Pensioners has surpassed the number of Serving employees and over the last year & a half, a new phenomenon has emerged as far as the pension class of the citizens is concerned. Today we have a large number of Pensioners. It is noteworthy that Pensioners out number Serving employees. Referring to the recent social security measures introduced by the Government, he said that now a different class of Pensioners has emerged in the Nation in that, those who were never in Government service have become Pensioners   and we are proceeding from a non-pension Society to a pension Society, which is, in a way is also a social reform.
4.1         Continuing his speech, Dr.Jithendar Singh said that the average life span of Indians has increased over the years and is at 65 years now which is likely to increase further. A person with relatively better management of health lives up to 75-80 years .His concern was as to how best to utilise the service of vast human resource that India has begun to accumulate lest it should go waste. He suggested that the Pensioners who have rich experience and expertise can be made part of decision making process which would also give them a feeling of participation. Pensioners can be included in the Advisory Committees etc. Referring to the Prime minister’s new initiative “Start up India, Stand up India” he said that Pensioners can become the torch bearers of this initiative.
4.2           Complimenting the Department of Pension & Pensioners Welfare on its efficient functioning, and various pensioner friendly measure taken by it in the recent past, he felt that the pension issue is too large to be handled by the DOP&PW alone and it calls for involvement of many other Departments of the Government in resolving the issues connected with the welfare of Pensioner community. Observing that number of grievances has come down; he said that the Department does not take it as a compliment as it was its duty. He remarked “pendency without reason should be taken care of completely”. Concluding his speech he said that Government is quite receptive and they look forward to new ideas that would help in betterment of life of all.
5. Gist of discussions on the Action taken report on the decisions of 26th meeting of SCOVA
5.1 Status of issue of revised PPOs to pre 2006 Pensioners
The joint Secretary said that some cases are still pending disposal for years and there is
an urgent need to resolve all the pending cases. CPAO informed that the number of pending cases has come down and the main reason for pendency is non availability of basic details and that CPAO is making every effort for finalisation of the remaining cases.
                Colonel Handa Representative of Disabled War Veterans (India) pointed out that while hundreds of cases are still pending, the Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare has indicated the number of pending cases as Nil.
                Representative of Railway Pensioners’ Association also pointed out that the figures of Total cases, Revised Authorities issued and Pending cases furnished are not correct.
                The Official Representative of DoT said that the main reason for pendency of 466 cases is non availability of pension records with BSNL. He said that Pension Ppaying Banks are being addressed to furnish the details of Pensioners/ Family Pensioners so that the individual Pensioners could be contacted. JS (PP) wanted that action should be completed as early as possible.
6. Health Insurance Scheme for Pensioners including those residing in non-CGHS areas
               
                The scheme has since been recast as suggested by NITI Ayog, DoE & DoFS. Fresh consultation with Insurance Companies will be held in the matter of premium, coverage etc.

7. Special Family Pension for the Widows of Disabled War Veterans
When it was informed that the requisite information on the number of widows getting ordinary family pension is not forthcoming from Army HQ, Col. Handa  said that the number of  widows is 3000 as per the data available with him and requested that the issue must be resolved soon.
8 CGHS facilities to P&T Pensioners who were not participating in CGHS while in service

It was informed that the matter is under consideration and approval of DoE is awaited.                            Sri K.B.krishna Rao, Secretary, K P&T PA, stated that OM dated 1-8-1996 of MoH & FW, by which P&T Pensioners were denied CGHS facility , was struck down by CAT Bangalore ,as a result of which temporary cards , renewable once in 6 months, have been issued to P&T Pensioners. The matter has attained finality with the dismissal of the SLP by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 22-8-2014. He requested that the OM dated 1-8-1996 may be withdrawn immediately which will pave the way for issuance of permanent CGHS Cards to P&T Pensioners. He also informed that their Association has submitted a Memorandum to the Hon’ble Health Minister in this regard
Representative of Ministry of Health & FW informed that the matter is under consideration and sent to  DoE for approval.
Pensioners’ Associations suggested that CGHS facility must be extended to all Pensioners retired from Autonomous/ Statutory bodies whose pension is regulated as per CCS(Pension)Rules. The Joint Secretary (PP) replied that payment of pension under Central Pension Rules does not make them eligible for CGHS.

9. Anomaly in fixation of pension of DoT employees absorbed in BSNL, who retired between 1-10-2000 and 31-7-2001.

                The Joint Secretary (PP) said that the issue is pending for a long time and wanted to know where and why it is still pending? The Official Representative of DoT stated that a report has been sent to DoE on                22-9-2015 furnishing replies to all the 4 points raised. At this stage the Minister intervened and wanted to know as to when the issue will be resolved since the case is pending for a long time. The Secretary (PP) said that the matter must be settled before 27-10-2015.

8. Merger of 78.2% of IDA with basic pension of Pre-2007 BSNL Pensioners

                The Joint Secretary (PP) said that DoP&PW has already conveyed its “No objection” and have also conveyed their comments on 6-7-2015 on the draft Cabinet Note circulated by DoT. The Official Representative of DoT informed that the DoE had raised some serious objections and wanted information on number of Pensioners involved and the required particulars are being collected. The Secretary (PP) wanted to know the time needed to collect the information for which DoT Official replied that they are pursuing the matter with the concerned Authorities and hope to furnish the details to DoE as soon as possible.
  
9. Grant of Grade Pay of Rs. 4,600 to pre-2006 pensioners of S-12 grade

               
It was informed that the relevant file was sent by DoP&PW to DoE on 22-01-2015for reconsideration and details  regarding pending court  cases called for by DoE were furnished on               10-9-2015. The DoE Representative confirming the receipt of the report from Dop&PW, stated that a decision will be taken in the matter with in one week.

10. Extension of the benefit of OM dated 28-1-2013 with effect from 1-1-2006 instead of 24-9-2012.

The JS (PP) stated that DoP&PW has issued necessary Orders vide OM No 38/37/08-P&PW(A) dated 30.07.2015  for payment of arrears of increased pension from 01.01.2006 to 23.09.2012 to eligible pre-2006 Pensioners and steps are being taken for making payment of arrears.
Sri K.B.Krishna Rao, Secretary, KP&TPA, sharing information on payment of arrears to pre-2006 pensioners as a consequence of issue of OM dated 30-7-2015, said that in Karnataka Postal Circle, revised authorities were issued immediately on receipt of Orders from Dept of Posts and payment of arrears to most of the eligible pensioners was made before 31-8-205 and statement of arrears of pension were also issued to the Pensioners. He stated that the alacrity with which the work was done by the O/o the Director of Accounts (P), Karnataka was highly appreciable and must be placed on record. This information and the compliments extended were applauded by the Secretary, JS (PP) and the Officers of the Department of Posts.
11. Extension of CGHS facilities to retired BSNL employees -Issue of follow up Order by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare & fixation of rates of contribution & ward entitlement by DoT. 

DoT Representative informed that a proposal was sent last week to take up the case with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

12. Simultaneous issue of orders for the release of Dearness Allowance

                JS (PP) said that the matter has now been put in place and action for simultaneous issue of DR Orders has been taken. Pensioners’ Associations stated that separate Orders from Defence and Railways are not necessary. The Secretary (PP) replied that this suggestion will be examined.


13. Provision of CGHS facility for life time to dependent disabled/mentally retarded children of Central Government employees/ Pensioners

                Under CGHS rules while a son suffering from any permanent Physical/Mental disability is entitled to avail CGHS facility for life and his marital status will not result in denial of the facility,
a daughter who is also suffering from the same type of disability looses it, if she gets married.
 K P&T PA suggested this item for inclusion in the Agenda for the 26th Meeting of SCOVA and requested that on the analogy of grant of family pension to physically/ mentally disabled children, CGHS facility must also be extended to such children irrespective of age and marital status.
                Ministry of Health & FW intimated that a  daughter once she gets married is related to the husband and can no more be treated as dependent on the principal beneficiary as before, Therefore, dependency defined for son and daughter cannot be compared to each other
               
                Sri K.B.Krishna Rao, Secretary KP&TPA requested that the issue may please be reviewed on compassionate grounds.




 Discussions on Fresh Items of the Agenda for 27th Meeting of SCOVA.

1. Modification to the format of Life Certificate - Issue of acknowledgement to Pensioners submitting Life Certificate

                This issue also was one of the items suggested by K P&T PA for inclusion in the Agenda of items for discussions in the 27th SCOVA.

                It is heartening to note that both DoP&PW and Dept of Expenditure/CPAO acted swiftly
on the suggestion to modify the format of life certificate to include a part in the format to provide for issue of acknowledgement, which can be detached and given to the Pensioner by the receiving Bank/Post Office. And in implementation of the suggestion given, CPAO issued Correction Slip No.24 modifying the format of life Certificate and supplied copies of the modified format to all the Pensioners’ Associations in the meeting.
Sri K.B.Krishna Rao, Secretary, KP&TPA, thanked DoP&PW & CPAO for the prompt action taken on the Association’s suggestion. The Hon’ble Minister appreciated the suggestion given and the action taken In this regard.

The revised format of Life Certificate is reproduced in page ------ of this journal


2. Extension of the benefits of DoP&PW OM No.38/37/08-P&PW(A) dated 28-1-2013 read with OM dated 30-7-2015 to pre-2006 Pensioners with less than 33 years of service.

            K P&T PA while sending items/issues for inclusion in the Agenda for discussion in the 27th Meeting of SCOVA had  requested that the issue of grant of modified parity in pension between pre and post 2006 Pensioners may be  reviewed in its entirety , keeping in view the recommendations of 6th CPC, and the provisions of OM dated 28-1-2013 read with OM dated 30-7-2015 may  be further liberalised and modified to extend the benefit to all pre-2006 Pensioners  with less than 33 years of service , thereby ending  pro rata reduction in pension for less than 33 years of service. It was also suggested that modified parity should be made applicable to all pre-206 pensioners  irrespective of placement of the post from which they retired in a higher pay scale subsequent to their retirement, either from 1-1-1996 under 5th CPC or from 1-1-2006 under the 6th CPC, since several posts were placed in Higher Pay Scale under 5th and 6th CPCs and the Pensioner who retired from the same posts prior to their up gradation have been denied the benefit of modified parity in pension with reference to the Upgraded Pay Scale on par with those who retired from the Upgraded Posts.
            However, the 2nd fresh Agenda item of the meeting notified by DoP&PW, did not deal with grant of modified parity in respect of pensioners retiring from upgraded posts and the item was confined to pro rata pension for less than 33 years of service.
            When the item was taken up, the JS(PP) informed that the matter is sub judice and therefore cannot be discussed. Pensioners’ Associations wanted early resolution of this long pending grievance. The Secretary, (PP) intervened to say that   the case was with DoE and the process of consultation is happening and he hoped to find a solution in about 2 months time.


3.Opening/Extension/Repair of Dispensaries at following stations:-  (A) Dehradun, UUarakhand (B) Panch kula, Haryana (C) Mohali, Punjab (D) Chandigarh (Union Territory) (E) Ambarnath,Maharashtra
            It was informed that opening /extension of CGHS WCs is not possible at present owing to resource crunch .Funds for renovation of WC at Ambarnath have been sanctioned. Pensioners Association complained that there are no Medical Specialists at Chandigarh W C. Secretary (PP) replied that there are norms for sanction of Specialist and it has to be examined whether there is any justification for the post of a specialist. Uttarapara CG Pensioners’ Association Representative stated that CGHS is available only in Kolkotta and wanted that CGHS WCs must be opened in other major Cities of the State. Mentioning about issue of Smart Cards to Railway Pensioners, he said that only Eastern Railway has issued Smart Cards and no other Railway Zone has issued Smart Cards.

4. Implementation of circular No. 38/37/08-P&PW{A) dated 30.07.2015

                The Pensioners’ Associations sought immediate payment of arrears of pension arising out of implementation of OM dated 28-1-2013 from 1-1-2006 instead of 24-9-2012 in terms of OM dated 30-7-2015 and for this the PAOs concerned should initiate action suo- moto without calling for applications from Pensioners/ Family Pensioners.
               

                The Meeting ended after summing up of the discussions by the Jt. Secretary and the Secretary, DoP&PW.                                       
             



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