The Defence Accounts Department of Ministry of Defence, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Wednesday with Bank of Baroda and HDFC Bank to take them onboard as Service Centres under the System for Pension Administration (Raksha) (SPARSH) initiative, with more than 14,000 branches throughout India.
The MoU was signed in the presence of Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Financial Adviser (Defence Services) Rasika Chaube and Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA), Avinash Dikshit, and others along with senior executives of Bank of Baroda and HDFC bank.
Defence Secretary Kumar on the occasion said that the objective is to bring 17 lakh pensioners out of the total of 32 lakh defence pensioners on SPARSH by the end of September, 2022 and the remaining pensioners will be brought to SPARSH at the earliest. He said that the average time in pension settlement has come down significantly to about 16 days.
The MoU will take onboard more than 7,900 branches of Bank of Baroda and 6,300 branches of HDFC Bank as Service Centres to provide last mile connectivity to pensioners, especially those who live in remote areas of the country and those who do not have the means or technical wherewithal to log on to SPARSH. For these pensioners, the Service Centres will become an interface for SPARSH and provide an effective medium for pensioners to perform profile update requests, register grievances and seek redressal, digital annual identification, pensioner data verification or also simply fetch detailed information regarding their monthly pension.
These centres would further augment the existing network of more than 161 DAD offices and nearly 800 Service Centres provided by State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank branches, and 14 branches of the Kotak Mahindra Bank. More than 4.5 lakh Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) will also assist Defence Pensioners, as part of the Common Service Centres (CSC) network. The access to these service centres would be provided free of cost to the pensioners, with nominal service charges being borne by the Department.
SPARSH is a web-based system for processing the pension claims and crediting the pension directly into the bank accounts of defence pensioners without any external intermediary.