Chepangs deprived of government allowance

- PAWAN YADAV, Chitwan
Chepangs deprived of government allowance

Jan 23, 2015-

At the ripe old age of 78, Goman Singh Chepang of Lothar-4, Chitwan, still does not own a Nepali citizenship certificate, which has effectively deprived him of state facilities. Chepang’s wife Sailimaya, 75, also suffers from the same fate as she too remains without a citizenship certificate. Owing to the lack of citizenship certificates to show that they are citizens of Nepal by descent, the couple has been deprived of the ‘old age allowance’ provided by the state.

Although the state has been providing a monthly allowance of Rs 500 and yearly medical expenses of Rs 2,000 to citizens above the age of 70, the couple has been deprived of these social welfare schemes. The physically weak elderly couple are neither aware about the existence of such state facilities to elderly people nor know the value of a citizenship certificate. They do not even know where to apply for their citizenship certificates and how can they avail such state-funded welfare schemes.

The elderly couple, who are living a very difficult life in a small thatched roof cottage, had only recently learned about the importance as well as benefits of a citizenship certificate from media persons and social campaigners who had reached the village from the district headquarters about a month ago to create awareness about the matter.

However, now that they know about the required legal provisions needed to acquire citizenship certificates and the state facilities from the social campaigners, they have been faced with another problem: they do not have the money nor the means to reach the district headquarters to acquire their citizenship certificates.

“We cannot walk and do not have the faintest idea about the citizenship application procedure ,” lamented Goman Singh, and appealed for assistance in this matter. However, the couple had found some respite in the form of food, warm clothes and financial assistance after an article about their dire situation was published in the Kantipur daily, the sister publication of The Kathmandu Post, the couple are saddened at their inability to acquire the citizenship certificates.

However, the hardship and difficulties faced by Goman Singh and his wife is not an isolated case.

Most of the elderly Chepang couple in the VDC share a similar fate, if not worse.  Deprived of state facilities due to their ignorance, many have been living in caves in the VDC.

“The VDC Secretary never visits the area where Chepangs live and one has to go to Bhandara to avail government services,” complained local Nar Bahadur Chepang. Stating that civil servants rarely visit their village, Nar Bahadur said that only a few teachers and health personnel working at the local health post live in the village. According to him, most of the elderly Chepangs in Yorti, Baswang, Kandang, Kelung, Tapang, Shyamrang, Gundi, Metang, Puchkum, Thapaltaar, Majhwang, Dhangwang and other villages have been deprived of elderly allowance and other social welfare schemes provided by the state.

Meanwhile, Chief District Officer Man Bahadur BK said they were planning to form an ‘integrated mobile service’ to provide citizenship certificates to the elderly Chepangs.

“We are currently providing citizenship certificates to those coming with recommendation from the VDC. However, elderly Chepangs who are unable to come to our office have been deprived of the citizenship certificate,” BK said, adding that they were preparing to take the integrated mobile service to the far-flung villages on February 23 and 24 to distribute citizenship certificates to elderly Chepangs who have been unable to come to the them.

An estimated 32,000 Chepangs live in nine hilly VDCs of the district.

Published: 24-01-2015 09:17

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