Veteran dancers in state face an endless wait for their pensions

Jul 29, 2014, 06:09 IST | Priyankka Deshpande

The district social welfare department is identifying retired artistes in financial difficulty, to prioritise their pension payments

Shobha Jadhav, a 65-year-old retired lavani dancer, has spent the past 10 years running from pillar to post trying to get her promised pension from the state. Jadhav, like several other senior artistes in the state, has met officials across several departments, from the Mantralaya to the district social welfare office, fighting for her right.

Surekha Punekar
Surekha Punekar, a renowned lavani dancer, has often attempted to help senior artistes when they fail to get their pension. File pic

“There are many such artistes who performed traditional danceforms like lavani, who face pension issues. The red-tapism in the district administration has compelled these artistes to live in a grave financial situation for several years,” said the renowned lavani artiste, Surekha Punekar, who is also Jadhav’s younger sister.

According to the state government’s pension scheme for older artistes in Maharashtra, those who performed at the national level are entitled to R1,400 per month, while state and district level artistes are entitled to Rs 1,200 and Rs 1,000 respectively. In reality, however, Jadhav is one amongst many who spend years waiting before they see any money.

Punekar, who has attempted to use her renown and influence to help her sister and others like her, said, “I also pay visits to the concerned departments to help these artistes, but it is all in vain. We get the typical response from officials — ‘work is in process’.”

District Social Welfare Officer, Sanjay Kadam said, “We are trying to ensure that artistes in Pune district get their pension on time.” He added that although the pension scheme is meant for all senior artistes, the department would prioritise them according to the urgency of their financial needs.

“We are identifying artistes who are facing financial crisis, and are presently gathering their contact details. Our social workers will then personally approach them and get their applications filled, so that we can give them their pension. We will also ask these artistes to give us information about other artistes, if any, who are in financial trouble,” Kadam said.

In what could be a ray of hope for performers who have had to chase down welfare officials so far, Kadam said that
pension application forms would also be made available online, so that artistes can apply from home instead of making rounds of various government departments.

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