Senior citizens are making a beeline to Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) office at Gayathripuram, Mysuru, to submit their Digital Life Certificates.
A visit to the PF Office shows several pensioners — almost on a daily basis except holidays — patiently sitting, waiting for their turn to submit their credentials for Digital Life Certificates. While some sit patiently for their turn, others paced up and down the hall. Reason: The concept of digitalisation is something that they are unable to perceive or comprehend and they are of the opinion that this was a sheer waste of time, money and energy.
Krishne Gowda, a 70-year-old pensioner, wasn’t aware of an EPFO kiosk to submit Digital Life Certificate has been set up in Mandya, his hometown, and he had come to Gayathripuram office all the way from the sugar town. At such an advanced age, he had to take a crowded bus from Mandya and with much difficulty he managed to get a seat. “I started early after breakfast with all my documents in this bag,” he said, showing his nearly-tattered bag that he hung on his shoulders. “I caught a KSRTC bus and reached the sub-urban bus stand and took a pre-paid auto to reach here,” he said.
A LONG QUEUE
Krishne Gowda said he was upset with digitalisation and the process involved. With pensioners swelling by the hour at the Gayathripuram PF Office, he had to wait quite a long time for his turn. Finally when his data got registered on the database, he was exhausted and he had to take an auto to reach the bus stand and then take a bus back to Mandya.
“This concept of digitalisation is not up to the mark. We have to wait for such a long time and there is no proper reply from the authorities. The service definitely needs to improve. Online payment is done digitally but online settlement is not yet accessible. In this scenario, what is the point of making it digital,” he asks.
ALL THE WAY FROM CHAMARAJANAGAR
Sixty-four-year-old Ramaiah, a central government pensioner, has a different story to tell. “I came all the way from Chamarajanagar as there is no EPFO kiosk there and this is my second visit. The first day I came here, the queue was too long and by the time my turn came, the timings ended. I had to come today and I hope that I will get registered,” he said.
For the convenience of pensioners, the EPFO authorities should have set up a kiosk even in remote places as pensioners are everywhere. It is unfair for them to summon us to Mysuru just to get a life certificate. This area is unfamiliar and I had to stay hungry during my first visit. Today, my wife has packed lunch and water,” he said with a wry smile.
While many pensioners expressed their dissatisfaction over digitalisation, Prabhakar, a pensioner and Executive Committee Member, Dunlop Tyres, has a different take. “It is very convenient for me to get my Digital Life Certificate done and it is easy if everything can be accessed on the servers instead of us getting all our papers to the EPFO office every time,” he said.
Jayaram, a driver, had a different perspective. “These people have arranged only two desks and two systems which are far less compared to the number of old people waiting for their turn. So much time is being wasted in this new concept,” he said, with a frown. Though the Government has promised not to inconvenience pensioners, old citizens, who are not that tech-savvy, are finding it difficult to understand this concept of digitalisation, he added.
AVOIDING FRAUD, DISCREPANCIES
Until last year, physical life certificates had to be submitted which was a time consuming process and misplacement of hard copies of documents seemed to be one of the prime concerns. This digital service records the finger print (thumb) and iris data of an individual to avoid any discrepancies.
The EPFO Office in Mysuru is a regional office and includes four districts — Mysuru, Madikeri, Chamarajanagar and Mandya. While offices and kiosks have been set up in Madikeri and Mandya, pensioners from Hunsur, Chamarajanagar and Nanjangud have no other option but to travel all the way to Mysuru.
Sachin Saurav, Asst. Provident Fund Commissioner, EPFO, Mysuru, said, “About 300 pensioners have been visiting us every day to get their Digital Life Certificate done. Many senior citizens lose their certificate or misplace them. So, going digital has solved those problems and the process does not consume much time. It helps us keep a record too and duplication and fraud is completely ruled out as it is linked with their Aadhaar cards and bio-metric data.”
ABOUT LIFE CERTIFICATE
Life Certificate or Jeevan Praman Patra is a biometric-enabled digital service for pensioners, which is linked with their Aadhaar card, Mobile number, Pension Payment Order number, Bank number and account number. The transition from Physical Life Certificate to Digital Life Certificate aims to eliminate duplication, forgery and fraud and make it a smooth and secure process. The EPFO has asked banks to install facilities like iris scanners, fingerprint scanner kiosks for the convenience of pensioners in getting Digital Life Certificates. However, this will be implemented at a later stage. After submitting their Digital Life Certificate, the pensioners annually need to go to the nearest EPFO office or a private online centre which has the facility of either finger print scanner or iris scanner and fulfil the criteria for receiving pension.
Employers’ Provident Fund subscribers whose mobile number, Aadhaar number and bank particulars have been linked with Universal Account Number (UAN) may obtain details of Provident Fund account balance and status by giving a missed call to: 01122901406. For more queries, contact Ph: 0821-2522486.
Umang App: Those who can barely walk or those who are physically challenged can register themselves in the ‘Umang’ (Unified Mobile Application for New-Age Governance) App on their mobile phones under EPFO-related services. The EPFO officials plan to visit the places of such people personally and record their biometric data once they are done with the registration of pensioners coming to EPFO office. Providing services to doorstep under a special case. The Umang application also provides services to EPFO endorsers. Pensioners can see their passbook, raise a claim for pension withdrawal, part withdrawal, and final settlement, he said.
Physical Life Certificate is accepted only in rare cases where people have undergone a cataract surgery (which rules out iris biometric data) or where their fingerprints are eroded and biometric data cannot be taken.