Talk of “grave” irregularities. The Haryana government transferred ₹97.5 crore to dead pensioners between 2017 and 2020, finds the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

In its latest report, the CAG indicts the State government for wiring over ₹237 crore of pensions through direct benefit transfer (DBT) either to dead or ghost pensioners or undeserving people.

The CAG’s performance audit of the Haryana government’s DBT for 2022 sternly suggests fixing of accountability against the erring authorities.

Dead giveaway

Under three social security schemes picked up for scrutiny — Old Age Samman Allowance, Pension to Widow and Destitute Women, and Haryana Divyang Person Pension Scheme — the State’s Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE) Department transferred ₹97.5 crore as pension to the dead from 2017 to 2020, the auditors revealed in their report tabled in the Assembly on Monday. Another ₹2.33 crore was wired to dead beneficiaries but was treated as “normal pension account,” the CAG pointed out.

Likewise, the State government disbursed ₹9.15 crore pension to multiple beneficiaries of the three pension schemes on the same Aadhaar number.

Another serious breach was the disbursement of social security pension to ghost recipients leading to a ₹64.13- crore loss to the exchequer.

The CAG dug up more shortcomings in the DBT disbursement — ₹54.48 crore of pension was transferred into the bank accounts of persons who were not the actual beneficiaries.

The CAG analysed data of beneficiaries provided by the SJE Department for the period between April 2017 and July 2020, and noticed that pensions of ₹19,803.12 crore (via 10,47,65,864 transactions) were transferred during that period to beneficiaries’ accounts under social security schemes. “Out of ₹19,803.12 crore, only ₹16,695.71 crore (8,74,52,031 transactions) was successfully transferred to the beneficiaries’ accounts,” the report states.

“Transaction status of ₹3,025.61 crore (1,68,80,027 transactions) has not been updated in the database by the Department. Disbursing agencies were required to upload the response on the SJE pension portal,” the CAG said. However, it was neither uploaded on the portal nor monitored by the Department, the auditors remarked, expressing surprise at the absence of data.

The Haryana government’s DBT is also plagued by delays in releasing the monetary assistance guaranteed under Article 41 of the Constitution, noted the CAG. It took from one to 444 days in giving pensions worth ₹7,852.23 crore in 4,22,06,476 transactions, the auditors found after scanning the State database.

The CAG recommended “a comprehensive review of the beneficiaries’ data including legacy data to ensure its completeness, authenticity and correctness”.

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