The 83-year-old Shella Singh of Kaler village in Faridkot district, whose face the state government used to project as the old-age pension scheme’s brand ambassador without even offering him the pension, has finally become entitled to get the benefit. This could be done only after media highlighted the issue on Monday.Shella was unaware if the state government had liked his face so much that a photograph of him clicked months back at some government function would be selected for the full-page newspaper advertisement detailing how the state government helped and cared the elderly people in nine years, highlighting the revision of old age pension from Rs 250 to Rs 500.
It was a shocker for him when media persons while investigating the matter, reached him and learnt that Shella was not entitled to the pension in fact. His application for the same was rejected at least for thrice times in the past seven years. Not only Shella but his wife Jagit Kaur, who is three years younger to him, also failed to get selected within the parameters of the state government’s scheme, despite the fact that she too was an applicant for the “meagre” aid.
Shella’s plight is quite emotive as his application for the cashless medical treatment under Bhagat Puran Singh Bima Yojana and subsidised food under the Atta-Dal scheme also failed to yield results. After the things got space in the media, the district administration on Monday swung into action.Deputy Commissioner M S Jaggi sent the District Social Security Officer Chhinder Pal Kaur to his place with a mandate to investigate the matter and launched the process to bring him under the pension bracket, if not entitled yet. Sources informed that the DC too woke up only after he got a call from the state headquarters to cover up the gaffe.
Finally, the DDSO found that Shella was qualifying but the administration had not yet entered his name in the list of beneficiaries. While justifying the negligence of his subordinates, the DC claimed that earlier Shella owned a chunk of 2.5 acres of agricultural land but recently he got it transferred in the name of his son, he became entitled to get enrolled under the state government’s pro-people scheme of old age pension.He, however, failed to answer how his photograph got selected for the posters which were recently released by the state’s Public Relations Department.Parrying the query, a highly-positioned officer in the Social Security Department replied: “All is well that ends well. Shella Singh will now get the pension.”
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