Shimla, Aug 28: Over 22,000 old age pension applications were pending with the Himachal Pradesh government, minister Sarveen Chaudhary told the assembly today.
Replying to a question asked by Ramesh Chand Dhawala, BJP MLA from Jawala Mukhi segment, during question-hour, Chaudhary said 40,359 old age pension applications were received following the Jai Ram Thakur government lowering the old age pension limit from 80 years to 70 years.
In the absence of social justice minister Rajiv Saizal, Chaudhary informed the house that 17,981 new applicants had already started to get Rs 1,300 old age pension every month, while 22,378 applications were still pending.
Congress MLA Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu enquired about the criterion which enabled 17,000-odd new applicants to get a pension, while the rest of the applications were still pending.
At this, Chaudhary stated that applications were received online and they were approved on a first-come, first-serve basis. Dissatisfied with Chaudhary's reply, Opposition Leader Mukesh Agnihotri pointed out that there are several areas in the state where the online facility is not available.
Subsequently, Assembly Speaker Rajiv Bindal asked cabinet minister Mahender Singh to clarify on the matter. Singh said, "Old age pension starts as soon as verification of applications and annexed documents are ready.' Singh added that the state government would not allow fund shortage to be a hurdle in sanctioning of old-age pension.