Burning govt offices in hills hampers people's welfare programmes
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, September 02 2010: The Autonomous District Councils (ADCs), which according to government, aims for overall development of the hill people has been constituted but government officials in the hill districts are bearing the negative effects of offices burnt prior to the elections while registering protests against the holding of the elections in the Naga dominated hill districts.

Over 30 government offices across the four Naga dominated hill districts of Senapati, Ukhrul, Chandel and Tamenglong were torched in the spate of violent agitations against the holding of elections to the ADCs acts instigated by UNC and ANSAM.

It coincided with the barring of NSCN (IM) general secretary, Th Muivah to enter Manipur during May and June 2010 .

The District Social Welfare office is facing difficulties to re-establish official records, documents and other assets, revealed an official.

The office was reduced to ashes on May 6, 2010 prior to the ADC elections in the Hill Districts of Manipur.

The office was torched by unknown armed persons in the night, according to police records.

The office burnt down will take some years to return to normalcy.

"In that terrible incident the entire official records, documents and offices assets were burnt to ashes.

This has created a lot of problems and difficulties while reestablishing important records and documents which may take years to establish" the District Social Welfare Officer, Chandel said.

Among others, the most sensitive matter is the difficulty in implementing the National Assistance Programme (NSAP) which was launched during the year 1995 by the then Prime Minister of India Narasimha Rao for the welfare of aged men and women of poor families throughout the country.

The office is implementing both the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) and The Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS) under the NSAP in addition to the existing Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) to cover more beneficiaries of the weaker and vulnerable groups of society.

There are 3174 beneficiates/old age pensions under these schemes in Chandel district to whom pension was distributed upto the month of July 2009.The office attempt to disburse pensions to Post Office/Bank by opening accounts of the beneficiaries to their respective nearest Post Office and Banks has been delayed after the arson.

The Social Welfare Office, Chandel is implementing the NSAP schemes in Chandel district successfully.

However, the difficulties in the implementation of the schemes after the arson have become greater in disbursing pension/benefits to beneficiaries directly, particularly in areas in the remote borders of the district.

The present law and order situation and bad road transport system may be the main factors of these inconveniences.

Some old age beneficiaries are unable to reach the office personally to collect the pension amount because of the aforesaid factors, the official said.

For the illiterate, the officer said "In such case we try to disburse pension benefits through the concerned village chiefs or other nearest relatives as there are no Post Office/Bank facilities".

Regarding the opening of accounts at the Post Office and Bank the old aged pensioners are suffering a lot, he said.

In the interior hill areas there is no bank or post office.

They have to go to very far places, about 60 to 70 miles, just to open an account at the post office or bank.

So it will be proper of the ministry to see that such practices are relaxed for pensioners living in the remote areas/interior hill areas, he observed.