Is State treasury meant for only politicians?

KL Report

SRINAGAR

Much to the utter shock the RTI queries have revealed that the widow and old age pension in the State has been increased only once during the last fifteen years. On the contrary, salary to politicians has been hiked 500 times.

The applications have sought details about the monetary assistance to widows, old age pensioners and the salary to politicians who are drawing it from the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

In reply to RTI queries, it shows government has increased 25 rupees in pension cases pertaining to widow, old age and divorcee which was earlier 175 rupees and increased it to rupees 200 in the year 2003-04.

The reply to applications have revealed the salary of State politicians has been increased thrice; one in 2006 from rupees 17000 to rupees 40000 and then in 2009 from rupees 40, 000 to rupees 85000.

Balvinder Singh, Convener Sangarsh RTI Movement said he has filed two different RTI applications to know about the hike in widow pension and the simultaneously the hike in salaries of the state MLAs during the last 15 years.

Singh told GNS that salary to politicians in the state has been increased 5OO times in the previous years. “But pension to the needy persons has not been increased since 2003.”

“It is very unfortunate that in today’s era when one kilogram onion is sold at rupees 90 government is giving a meager amount of rupees 200 per month to the needy persons,” Balvinder added.

Hassi Begum, 75, a widow pensioner told GNS that she doesn’t have any income except the widow assistance provided by government. “Sometimes I feel helpless as I have to purchase medicines worth thousands of rupees for whole month,” Hassi said.

“I have lost my husband in 2006. Now I’m surviving with my two sons who are married and working as labors with minimal earnings,” Hassi said adding, “I am getting rupees 200 as widow pension from social welfare department which is insufficient and a meager amount for me to buy medicines at least for one week,” Hassi added.

Despite repeated attempts, Minister for Social Welfare, Sakina Itoo could not be contacted.

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