Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Saturday that 70,000-odd ineligible beneficiaries were removed from the ambit of social security protection provided by the state.
He said orders have been issued to recover a sum totalling Rs 162.35 crore in these fraudulent cases, which will go into increasing financial assistance to the deserving beneficiaries.
In fact, the Chief Minister said, the Congress government had added six lakh genuine beneficiaries to the list after taking over the state’s reins again while weeding out the ineligible ones, who were fraudulently deriving social security benefits under the patronage of the erstwhile SAD-BJP government.
These things happen when political parties become selfish and indulge in wrongful acts to promote their own interests, he added.
Only the undeserving people had been removed from the beneficiary list, he asserted, adding that the total number of beneficiaries had actually gone up from 19 lakh to 25 lakh in the three-year period.
Responding to a question from a Hoshiarpur resident during ‘Facebook Live’ session of #AskCaptain, the Chief Minister said he was totally committed to transparency in selection of beneficiaries and his government would ensure that no eligible person is left out or deprived of his due share of social benefits.
An official spokesperson pointed out that 70,137 fake social security beneficiaries were weeded out after thorough verification and re-verification exercise conducted by the Social Security and Women and Child Development Department following the Chief Minister’s order.
Pointing out that most of these ineligible beneficiaries were from the constituencies of the Badal clan, the Chief Minister later lashed out at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders for ‘bribing’ voters with bogus social security pension and financial assistance in the run-up to the 2017 Assembly elections.
It was a different matter that these shameless tactics failed to serve them, he said, citing the Akalis’ complete rout in the polls.
Due to Rs 162.35 crore loss incurred by the state exchequer as a result of alleged diversion of social security benefits, including old-age and widow pensions, to these fraudulent beneficiaries, genuine ones were deprived of increased benefits of various government schemes, as promised by the Congress ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls.
The notification to investigate and identify suspect pensioners was issued by the Social Security department in June 2017, soon after the Congress government came to power in Punjab.
The exercise revealed that as many as 36,617 persons had been drawing old-age pensions fraudulently without fulfilling the age criterion of 58 years for women and 65 years for men. Other categories in which fake beneficiaries were detected included those drawing pensions for widows, destitute women, and the disabled.
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