'SPARSH' portal for defence pension payout to come online soon amid concerns
The online platform 'SPARSH' is envisaged to ensure the right payment to the right pensioner at the right time through digital processing of over 30 lakh pensioners.
The government will soon launch an online portal, 'SPARSH', which is aimed at facilitating and easing the disbursal of defence pensions. However, questions are being raised by the serving personnel and veterans regarding centralisation, digitisation and security of data.
The System for Pension Administration Raksha (SPARSH) will be launched in a phased-wise manner for all the pensioners of the Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.
It is envisaged to ensure the right payment to the right pensioner at the Right time through digital processing of over 30 lakh pensioners.
Raising concern over the newly developed system, Indian Ex-Servicemen League President Brig Kartar Singh (Retd) said, "It does not cater for very old age pensioners who are dependent on banks as their disbursing authorities."
However, he was of the view that the defence ministry's initiative is well-intentioned.
Stating that the security of data of serving personnel as well as pensioners would be compromised as it is being hosted on an Internet server, the sources in the defence establishment said that it might lead to targeting of serving and retired persons by inimical intelligence and cyber-crime agencies.
"The entire pension disbursement system must be user friendly," an official said.
Brig Singh also said that many veterans also live in remote areas where Internet connectivity and inaccessibility of the government's schemes are the major issues of concern.
"The implementation of this scheme should not affect that. I feel banks should continue to be part of the grievance redressal mechanism," he added.
Brig Singh suggested that this scheme should be applicable to the new pensioners and "it must be run as a pilot program for a minimum of two years, both to give time for veterans to adjust to the new scheme and observe its success."
Once this system is launched, the banks will no more be the Pension Distribution Agency and all the grievance redressal mechanisms would be resolved through a single source which is Allahabad-based Principal Controller of Defence Accounts PCDA (Pension).
As per an official, this move would help the government in saving around Rs 250 crore annually because, under the existing mechanism, the banks are charging Rs 6 per pensioner annually.
As per the official, the need for SPARSH was felt to obviate and address the current challenges in the pension sanctioning and disbursement process such as decentralised solutions existing in silos, manual intervention in processing, lack of centralised information for addressing pensioner queries, among others.