Some of India’s most accomplished boxers, including the sport’s national observer Akhil Kumar and the former Asian champion M Suranjoy Singh, are still to get their pensions due since 2017 but the sports ministry says their wait will end this month as the requisite funds have been procured.
Akhil, a 2006 Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, and Suranjoy, winner of an astonishing eight consecutive international gold medals before a knee injury snapped his career short, are among the boxers waiting for their pensions to be released.
“I applied in 2017, have sent reminders as well but everytime the response has been ‘it’s in process’. I don’t know what’s the problem,” said Suranjoy, who is entitled to Rs 14,000 per month for his gold medals in the 2010 CWG and the 2009 Asian Championships.
A ministry official, on condition of anonymity, acknowledged the inexplicable delay but said the process of getting the funds is now complete and the money will be released this month.
“The Ministry had to give a corpus of Rs 5 crore to LIC, which was to release the pension to these boxers. The funds were awaited from the finance ministry and the whole process was completed only last month. But March being the end of the financial year, we were advised by the finance ministry to release the money only this month,” the official said.
“The money is now in place and the LIC will start the disbursement this month. There are other boxers too apart from these two, who are entitled to pension. All of them will get their dues this month,” he added.
When contacted, Akhil, also a World Cup bronze-medallist, refused to comment on the matter.
Among other boxers to have applied for the pension are Jitender Kumar, a 2006 CWG bronze-medallist, and 2002 world championships bronze-medallist woman pugilist Jyotsana.
“There are others as well. Hopefully, they will get their dues. Whenever we have approached the ministry with a query on this, we have been told that those entitled will be duly paid their arrears too, so there is nothing to worry,” a Boxing Federation of India official said.
As per the government pension scheme for meritorious sportspersons, the medallists at the Olympics and Paralympics are entitled to Rs 20,000 per month.
Gold-winners at the World Cup or World Championships, held every four years, are to be paid Rs 16,000 while gold medals won in the Commonwealth and Asian Games make an athlete eligible for Rs 14,000 per month.
To apply for the pension, athletes have to be above 30 years of age and retired from active participation.
The pension payments are made through Life Insurance Corporation of India. The Ministry purchases annuities for individual pensioners by making one-time lump-sum payment to LIC.