The wrinkled face of Smt. Tripta Devi, a 76 years old widow of Geeta Bhawan Mandir locality in Una town is lit with delight as she anxiously awaits her social security pension for the first quarter of 2008. She knows that the enhanced social security pension of Rs. 300 per month, a new year gift from the Chief Minister Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal to the old, deserted/widow and disabled, of which she is a part, is on its way. A similar expression adored her face five and a half years back when the social security pension was raised to Rs. 200 from Rs. 150 in August 2002 by the same Government.This increase has come as a much needed support to the 2,37,250 social security pension holders comprising the old, deserted/widow, disabled and lepers of the State, who have been having a difficult time on a monthly subsistence of Rs. 200 that had remained stagnant during the past five years despite steep rise in the price index. Deeply moved by the plight of this vulnerable section of the society, the new Government in the State enhanced their monthly pension by Rs. 100 in a single stroke, an increase of whopping fifty percent as had never been witnessed earlier. This step reflects the commitment of the State Government towards the welfare of the poor and under-privileged persons, who will get an additional Rs. 1200 annually and Rs. 6000 in five years on account of it.
The new social security pension rate of Rs. 300 per month has come into effect from first January, 2008 and the beneficiaries would start receiving the enhanced pension shortly. This would entail an additional annual expenditure of Rs. 30 core. Earlier, an amount of Rs. 5384.45 lakh had been earmarked under social security pension scheme in the State for the current financial year.
In Himachal Pradesh 3.90 percent population is covered under the social security pension scheme. As many as 139972 persons are getting old age pension in the State. Similarly, 68,455 deserted women and widows are being given social security pension besides rehabilitation allowance to 26,922 disabled persons and 1901 lepers.
District Mandi has the highest number of social security pension holders with 52,551 persons followed by Kangra with 45,262 and Shimla with 31,780. The number of deserted/widow pensioners is also highest in districts of Mandi with 14426, Kangra with 13402 and Shimla with 8126.
The most of disabled persons getting rehabilitation allowance are from Kangra district numbering 6620. In Mandi and Shimla districts 4850 and 2570 disabled persons are being given this allowance.
Out of the 1901 lepers getting rehabilitation allowance 418 belong to Chamba district, 396 to Shimla district and 350 are from Sirmour district.
The State is dedicatedly fulfilling its social responsibility towards the poor and needy old, deserted/widow, disabled persons and lepers, which form an integral part of the society and is sparing no efforts to assure them a life of respect and dignity. The development and welfare of the under-privileged, deprived and weaker sections of the society is being given special attention in the State and it can proudly be said that Himachal Pradesh is truly performing its responsibility of a welfare State.