Pensioners body EPS-95 National Agitation Committee on Wednesday said its members across the country and in the national capital will go on hunger strike on Thursday to press for their demand of Rs 7,500 minimum monthly pension.
Presently, the pensioners under the Employees' Pension Scheme 1995 (EPS-95) run by Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) have a minimum monthly pension (entitlement) of Rs 1,000 which was introduced in September 2014.
"The EPS-95 National Struggle Committee, representing retired employees from industrial/public/cooperative/private sectors, known as EPS95 pensioners, who dedicated their service to the nation's development, is facing dire circumstances due to extremely low pension amounts," a statement by the body said.
It stressed that these pensioners are living in distressing conditions and losing their dignity within their families and society due to the meager pensions they receive.
Therefore, on 20th July 2023, Commander Ashok Raut, National President of NAC (National Agitation Committee), and members of the Central Executive Committee have announced to go on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar.
To garner further support, pensioners across the country will also undertake hunger strikes at prominent locations on the same day, it stated.
While the Indian government has implemented several pension schemes for the welfare of the public, EPS-95 subscribers receive only a nominal pension amount after contributing to the pension fund throughout their service.
This amount, currently fixed at Rs 1,170, fails to support the basic needs and sustenance of the elderly pensioners.
The EPS-95 National Agitation Committee has organized various protests at different levels, from local to national, including demonstrations in Delhi, over the past seven years.
Also, a chain hunger strike is going on in front of the collector's office Buldhana ( Maharashtra), the headquarters of NAC since December 24, 2018.
The memorandums have been submitted to all members of the ruling and opposition parties in Parliament.
Despite two meetings with the Prime Minister and receiving assurances and directions, the demands of EPS-95 pensioners have not been approved due to the negative role played by the EPFO, it alleged.
The Committee has also met Finance Minister in the same regard.
The body has demanded to increase in the minimum monthly pension amount to Rs 7,500 along with a cost-of-living allowance.
This amount can be allocated from the EPFO's pension fund, or a provision can be made in the budget, it suggested.
This demand aligns with the recommendation of the Koshyari Committee (Rajya Sabha Petition 147), which considers the increased cost of living (Rs 3,000 or more with cost-of-living allowance) over the past ten years.
It demanded to provide the option of a higher pension based on actual salary, without discrimination, to all EPS95 pensioners (retired before and after September 1, 2014) as per the correct interpretation of the Supreme Court's decisions on October 4, 2016, and November 4, 2022.
Additionally, it also asked to adjust the arrears for the difference between the amount previously received and the higher pension amount.
It also wants the government to extend free medical facilities to all EPS-95 pensioners and their spouses.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee, on 20th April, has already heard the pensioners' side, along with factual information, it stated.
It is expected that the committee's report will be presented in this monsoon session, and the government should fulfill the pensioners' just demands, it informed.
"If the minimum pension is not increased in this monsoon session, nationwide protests will ensue, and the present government will be responsible for the consequences," it stated.
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