One of the affected applicants complained to Collector KS Kandasamy through WhatsApp, stating that the VAO had collected Rs 5,000 each from 50 OAP applicants in Kurunathur, Kunnakuppam, Vedanatham and Rayapettai villages in Kilpennathur taluk, after threatening to reject their applications if they did not pay up.
But when asked, the Collector told DT Next that action could be initiated only on the basis of a written complaint.
Officials accepted the existence of this practice across the State and said action could be taken only on the basis of a written complaint from one of the aggrieved. “Because as soon as subordinate revenue officials are issued a memo based on the complaint, they move the court seeking an order in their favour,” said an official.
Also, as the inquiry process requires the complainant to come to the district headquarters more than once, many get dejected and give up as they stand to lose their wages for each day that they do not attend work, sources added.
At present, the government had ordered that OAP be released only on the receipt of funds.
An official seeking anonymity said that beneficiaries were affected more when the local revenue official was shifted, as the new incumbent would also demand payment of similar amount to process the old age pension applications.
In a telling statement about the affairs in providing welfare assistance in the state, the complainant said, “Because of such flagrant demand, which we cannot afford or accept, we prefer to continue to work as coolies till the end of our lives.”