Ten years on, a 23-year-old woman and her two younger brothers, orphaned by the death of their father, a BEST bus conductor, are yet to receive provident fund amount running well over Rs 1 lakh, which they were entitled to upon his passing. Their father, Pandurang Desai, died of kidney failure in May, 2003.
Their mother had passed away a year before that. Despite being entitled to a job on compassionate grounds, the young woman is yet to get one. Supriya Desai (23), the eldest of the three siblings, said, “My mother was extremely stressed out throughout her life due to my father’s prolonged ill health. At the time both of them passed away, I was too young to understand things.”
“It was only in 2010 that we realised what provident fund was. After that, we started asking for our money from the officials. But they still haven’t paid us. They kept promising the work is in progress but nothing’s come of it,” said Supriya.
The three siblings used to live in Sakinaka, Andheri with their parents but after their father also died, the trio shifted to their maternal grandparents’ house in Kolhapur. Immediately after her father’s death, an internal property dispute in Supriya’s family deprived the siblings of their rightful wealth.
However, following orders from the Bombay High Court, the children were able to get their property back through their advocate MM Chopra. Their grandfather took their legal guardianship and helped resolve the dispute. “Since then, my grandfather Yeshwant Ghevade, grandmother Laxmi Ghevade and uncle Narendra Ghevade and his wife have been taking care of us and have helped us with money,” said Supriya.
But money continued to be a problem, and bearing her brothers’ educational expenses posed a conundrum. Averse to being a burden on her kin, two years ago, Supriya shifted to her aunt’s place at Andheri (W) to take up a job where she has been working for a salary Rs 6,000 a month.
Her younger brother Nikhil (22) has been training with the Indian Army where he has been earning Rs 4,000 monthly. At present, he is staying at a training camp in Darjeeling. The youngest of the three, Gaurav, is in his first year of engineering at Satara University where he has paid Rs 80,000 in admission and hostel fees.
“The university has been asking for Rs 1,20,000 from students as next year’s fees and it is difficult for us to arrange such a huge amount. Since we have been depending too much on our relatives, we cannot ask them for more,” Supriya said, adding, “I have huge hopes from the PF money. I am relying on it to pay my brother’s college fee.”
Supriya, who has passed her HSC exams, will now opt for a correspondence course to earn a BCom degree from Kolhapur University. She has even sent a letter to the head office of the BEST, applying for a clerical position in the same department as her father.
Advocate MM Chopra, the Desai children’s lawyer, said, “Gaurav called me two days ago asking me to clear the amount owed to his father as soon as possible since he will have to pay his engineering fees very soon. I request the officials to clear the PF of these people as soon as possible. Supriya is being shuttled around by bureaucrats at the BEST offices in Bandra-Kurla Complex and Colaba.”
The other side
When contacted Ashok Patil, BEST chairman, said, “The family can write a letter to my office and meet me so that I can ask for the relevant records and clear the PF amount.”