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Happily Unmarried? Widows, divorcees must vow singlehood to avail of East DMC pension

A certificate  declaring that one will not marry again, is what officials of the East Delhi civic body are demanding from poor widows and women divorcees to allow them a pension of Rs 1,000 a month. The officials have turned down hundreds of pension applications which were not supported by the declaration.

'It’s a cruel joke on the poor widows and divorcee women in the city. The corporation is providing them assistance under the social welfare scheme but they are being asked such embarrassing questions,' said Usha Devrani Shashtri, a member of the standing committee in East Delhi Municipal Corporation on Thursday. She also showed some applications that had been rejected and where the absence of such a declaration was mentioned as the reason for rejection.

The corporation has a policy of providing monetary relief in the form of pension to widows, divorcee women, senior citizens, handicapped persons and poor sections of the society. The pensions are approved on the recommendation of the area councillor and each councillor is authorised to recommend 700 persons from his/her area.

'A divorcee woman or widow is not entitled to pension if she remarries. A divorcee is required to submit her divorce certificate and declare that she is single at the time of applying for pension. A widow is required to submit only the death certificate of her husband,' clarified S Kumaraswamy, commissioner of East DMC. 'No question about their future plans can be asked from any woman,' he added.

Meanwhile, the department has also rejected some applications demanding that applicants submit a residence proof in the capital and prove that they have been living in the capital for the past five years.  Applicants are also required to have a separate bank account in their name.

The disbursement of the pension is also behind schedule with the civic body currently disbursing pension for the month of May, 2012. Also, thousands of applicants, who had applied for pension in May 2013 are still waiting to get their applications approved, after having their plea rejected more than twice.

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