Secy Genl BPS S.C.Maheshwari’s visit to Chandigarh
On 27.4.2013 S.C. Maheshwari Secy. Genl. BPS visited Chandigarh to participate in AGM of RSCWS an affiliate of BPS. While welcoming Maheshwari, N.P. Mohan President RSCWS presented to him a file containing information regarding FMA collected through RTI Act along with a synopsis based on this information and requested that BPS may consider filling a legal suit for raising FMA.
Speaking at the occasion Maheshwari explained to the large audience that there are two main categories of grievances of Pensioners ; No1. With reference to, correct & timely implementation of existing Govt. policies Rules/regulations & procedures and No2. Regarding Improvement/amendments of existing policies/Rules& regulations etc
Speaking on category 1 i.e. Grievances relating to implementation of existing policies, Rules & regulation, he informed the audience that after prolonged efforts. On line & offline systems to redress grievances of Pensioners/Family Pensioners is now in place, nodal officers at all levels have been nominated, time line & the procedure has been laid down .Even Citizen Charter for M/O P,PG & Pensions-DOPPW is in place . A step towards personal hearing of grievances by concerned officers on nominated days of the week has been taken. DOP &PW has already dedicated Wednesday 3-4 PM for this purpose . In Rlys too C.Rly Nagpur Division has started a Desk named ‘Astha’ under direct monitoring of DRM & SRDPO which attends to Pensioners/family pensioners grievances in time bound manner. Now we have to stress & ensure speedy & proper implementation of this system which involves spreading awareness and correct interpretation of Rules & regulations so that the system may not collapse due to flooding with unwarranted &misconceived issues.
Coming to category 2.of pensioners/family pensioners i.e. grievances like : removal of disparity between post & pre 2006 & within pre 2006 retirees, applicability of new benefits to pre2006 retirees, merger of 50% DR as DP, raising FMA to Rs 1200,restoration of commuted value of Pension in 12 years, Old age additional pension starting from 65 yrs, Companion on PR Rly Passes in the same class w/o payment of any Charges, issues related to RELHS etc . Secy. Genl. informed the gathering that though on paper several issues related to RELHS are resolved but implementation on ground is awaited. With reference to other issues he expressed the view that some basic change in the approach , attitude working of Pensioners organizations is needed and went on to state , “pensioners today are passing through a very difficult time ever rising cost of living & health care has rendered pension to be grossly inadequate .Most of us now find it difficult to manage the bare minimum basic needs of day to life in their meager pension and in short it is not prepared to consider our just demands and does not bother to redress our grievances adequately. The next decade will be one of struggle, not only for Pensioners but for the entire community of Sr citizen & organizations will have to determine whether Co-operation is a better model or conflict is?”
Referring to FMA he informed the audience that BPS was seized of the issue right from 2005 & had been demanding Rs 1200 as FMA W/o distance restriction and with linkage to inflation, he further told the house that the M/O Health & family welfare in one of their replies to BPS has committed that they had no objection if FMA is raised to Rs 1200/ & that BPS representation is now pending with the Minister for finance
Commenting on RSCWS request for filling legal suit for raising FMA ; Maheshwari told the audience that legal recourse is the last alternative, as it not only involves huge expenditure but lot of strain& stress on litigants. He informed the audience that presently BPS is seized of the issue of equal percentage rise in pension of all pre 2006 Pensioners & that legal consultations were on.
He, however, assured that after studying the information provided by RSCWS and obtaining legal advise, issue will be put up to BPS Managing committee for suitable decision. Maheshwari, emphasized, that to get desired results legal battle alone is not sufficient, it is to be supplemented by field struggle too which involves discussions with concerned officers to create favorable opinion as well as show of strength in field to earn political favor
Concluding his address S.C.Maheshwari said that do not consider yourself to be weak & devoid of strength. We may have bodily become weak but as Sr. Citizens we have great strength as almost 14% of Indian electoral, which in elections get translated to 20% actual vote share.
Pensioners as one of the intelligent & experienced section of Sr citizen community, have to take up- on themselves the task to establish the voice of reason & justice, to protect our wellbeing and to an honorable existence as senior Citizens in free India.
He said, “Let’s then mobilize ourselves in a big way, convincing the public opinion that we are not a burden & that we are not asking for largesse but our own money & rights established by none else than the apex court of country. Let the Govt. & the political parties realize that we too have a vote Bank & that they will not be able to neglect us for long”.