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Aadhaar shock for port trust ‘ghost pensioners'

Author: Dipak K Dash, TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 30, 2016
URL:   http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Aadhaar-shock-for-port-trust-ghost-pensioners/articleshow/52496590.cms

They are over 100 years old and yet, 18 former employees of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) were drawing pension regularly until technology called their bluff.

While the linking of Aadhaar to the pensioners' bank accounts last year showed up the "ghost" pensioners, in five other cases, family members of beneficiaries aged over 110 were found to be drawing money on their behalf.

Besides, the pension of 4,000 beneficiaries has been withheld since November as they have not submitted their "life certificates" to banks.

"Once Aadhaar is linked to the pensioners' accounts, all bogus claims will be stopped. Our responsibility is to keep the living happy, not feed the ghosts," said an official.

Plan on Aadhaar link to expose more ghost pensioners

Government data shows that out of 26,699 pensioners of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), around 404 were in the age group of 90 and 100 years.

The fraud was uncovered after shipping minister Nitin Gadkari had asked Kolkata port authorities last year to link pension payments to Aadhaar.

In fact, using Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) is being seen as a panacea for weeding out ghost employees, plugging a major loophole through which huge government funds for scholarships and fellowships flow out to bogus beneficiaries.

The shipping ministry had started holding special Aadhaar camps a year go for pensioners while the legal basis of Aadhaar was awaited.

"Once the entire exercise of linking Aadhaar with pensioners' accounts is completed, we may have a bigger number of bogus beneficiaries," the official said.

Sources said major ports, including Mumbai Port Trust and Chennai Port Trust, have made good progress in the linking pensioners' Aadhaar number to their bank accounts. In case of KoPT, it has covered little over one-third of the beneficiaries.

Using JAM, the government has been trying to plug leakage of subsidised foodgrain for the poor that is reaching the open market and also to reduce illegal diversification of subsidised urea meant for agriculture for industrial purposes.
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