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RTI helped Bhikubhai get pension and his family a chance to live

Atul Patankar

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Atul Patankar

As reported at indianexpress.com on Jun 12, 2009


Vadodara : Forty seven-year-old Bhikubhai Solanki has great regard for the Right to Information (RTI) law which has helped him get Rs 258 pension every month now after he struggled to survive for more than six years. Solanki, who worked as a sweeper with the Jaslok Hopsital in Mumbai, suffered from brain fever, which resulted into paralysis in both his legs in 2003. This also resulted into his termination from the hospital, where he had worked for 23 years.


Worse, he was not given any benefit of pension scheme or accident insurance. Repeated requests to hospital authorities for giving him pension from the provident fund fell on deaf years.


Solanki is the sole breadwinner of his physically challenged family. His wife could not be of much help as she has 40 per cent deformity in her legs and his 20-year-old son is mentally and physically challenged. He cannot even stand up on his legs. Because of Solanki’s ailment, the family’s survival became difficult.


“Whatever little I had saved during my employment of 23 years with the hospital in Mumbai was spent on my ailment. Neighbours and relatives gave food and money which kept my family alive so far,” said Solanki.


Finally, unable to find a way out, Solanki returned to his native Kherda village in Karjan taluka of Vadodara district and filed an RTI with the PF office. On failing to get any information about his pension, he filed an appeal with the Central Information Commission, Delhi.


CIC asked the PF office as to why pension was denied to him. The PF office asked the hospital to submit the records and it was only in May 2008 that Solanki’s case was taken up. Solanki attended the hearing of his case through video conference facility, as he was unable to travel to Delhi for hearing. CIC, in the hearing, asked PF office to give detailed information about the reason of denying his pension.


The PF office in its justification said that some of the documents were not verified. The officers from the PF office personally visited Bhikubhi’s office, completed all the formalities and started his pension.


The officials from the Social Justice Department of the state government also visited the family and started a monthly allowance of Rs 400 for his physically and mentally challenged son.


“I requested the authorities for a telephone booth for my wife so that we can earn some money for our survival. But nothing has happened yet. Currently, my pension is everything for me and my family.”


Source: RTI helped Bhikubhai get pension and his family a chance to live

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