PANCHTHAR, April 13: During the local polls, political parties had included social security allowance for the elderly people as one of their top election agendas. Senior citizens of Phidim Municipality were expecting to receive their allowances without any hassles after the local elections but that has been a far-fetched dream so far.
The municipality had instructed the elderly people to create a bank account for receiving their allowance stating that it was the decision of the government. The local government made it compulsory for the senior citizens to have a bank account. The municipality had listed about half a dozen banks at the district headquarters for the purpose. A large number of elderly people, disabled and woman had to travel all the way to the district headquarters to open an account in order to receive their allowances.
Since then, locals are obliged to visit the banks even for minor transactions. It is really challenging for the disabled and elderly people to reach the banks from remote areas. Most of the elderly people are illiterate and cannot sign the documents. Those who cannot sign must reach the bank in person to verify their finger prints. This has compelled the disabled and elderly people living in remote areas to take a long walk and wait in long queue.
Yasodha Rai, 67, of Phidim-7 reached the bank by walking for five long hours. "Earlier, we were provided with the allowance at our hands but I don't know why did they changed the system," Rai laments. Locals living in Lumfabung, Ranitar, Lungrupa, Nagin, Chokmagu and Shiva have been suffering a lot to receive their allowance. None of these wards have banks. This issue was raised even in the second Municipal Assembly where the elected representatives had decided to urge the provincial government to provide allowance in the village.
There are altogether 2,151 people in Phidim Municipality who are eligible for various kinds of allowance. According to Gurudatta Subedi, administrative chief of the municipality, providing allowance in bank accounts will help avoid misappropriation. But unavailability of vehicles and blacktopped roads has added to the woes of the service seekers.