No system in place to check their economic status and eligibility now, says govt official
The social security pensions doled out by the state government are not only meant for the marginalised poor in the state, but also for members of the erstwhile royal families though there is no mechanism to check whether they are eligible for these anymore. On average, the state government spends around Rs 5.4 crore annually to give allowances and pensions for the members of the erstwhile royal families in Kerala.
During the 2020-21 fiscal, the state distributed Rs 5.40 crore as family and political pensions to members of the families belonging to 37 royal families in the state, including Travancore, Kochi, and Kozhikode Zamorin. The general administration department data tabled in the assembly reveals that since 2013, 876 members of Kozhikode Zamorin royal family received a total of Rs 19.51 crore in family and political pensions. This is apart from the pension titled Malikhan being provided to the members of royal families of former princely states of Malabar (part of British India) by the Centre.
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“Even when the state government has been going ahead with the proposal to hold a socio-economic survey among the forward communities to assess the weaker sections among them, there is no system in place to assess the actual economic position of the members of the royal families or check whether they are eligible to draw the pension now like other sections of society,” said a senior officer. The worst part is that even those who are financially well off in the royal families are getting these pensions.
Though the pension or allowance of a member of Zamorin royal family is Rs 2,500 per month, the government, in 2017, increased it to Rs 3,000 for all members of the Travancore and Kochi royal families, who were eligible for the pension as on July 1, 1949 (as per the revenue department’s order on August 29, 1969). The royal family members are granted pension on the basis of the criteria in the 1969 order. Similarly, the amount of allowance or pension for different royal families varies on the basis of certain parameters.
PTA Rahim, who raised the issue in the assembly through a question, told TNIE, “There has been a campaign among some Muslim radical organisations that the LDF government has been giving away pension and perks to members of royal families in Kerala, especially Zamorin royal family. But the fact is that the previous UDF government had issued an order in 2013 that the members belonging to the Zamorin royal family, who wilfully handed over their properties to the government after the formation of the state, should be granted family and political pensions.”
Pension/allowances given to royal families in 2020-21
Kozhikode Zamorin family: Rs 2,46,25,000
Allowances for Travancore royal family: Rs 40,23,120
Allowances for families of ex-rulers (pension): Rs 2,36,40,999
Pension for palace pensioners of former Maharaja of Cochin: Rs 15,96,534
Allowances for ruling family of Cochin (pensioners): Rs 1,17,000
Total: Rs 5,40,02,653