Hemlata Tandel did some running around before she decided to approach those with who her father worked. An unmarried daughter, Tandel was looking to get the pension of her father who worked in the Matunga workshop of the railways.
But for the bureaucracy, the slow pace with which the system works, there was little comfort to the 52-year-old Tandel.
One day she had a fracture and things became worse. "It was this time around when I decided to approach those with who my father worked," said Tandel referring to the Railway Retirees Social Welfare Association (RRSWA), an organization formed to help those retired get their due from the government. Members of this organization not just helped her but also came to her place to check the records and do their bit of service while shoe could not move.
Formed by some senior officials of the railways with members across the spectrum, the association takes up cases of employees who live not just in Mumbai but also some part of Maharasthra. "The idea is to particularly help class IV employees and those who have little knowledge about the rules and cannot get their retirement benefits," said Pradip Athawale, president of the association.
"Railway's personnel department and the finance department are close to redundant sometimes. That is when we come into picture," said P Ranganathan, a former station manager and member of the association. The association that is headquartered in Thane meets once every month to see who needs help and the latest rules like circulars, latest pay commission and other detailing that is required to study it.
Most of the help is done through word of mouth. "I too had a pension problem and got to know about the association from my friend who managed to get benefit that I was denied," said Sandhya Patil. Patil got around Rs2 lakh when her case was resolved. "A lot of time there are circulars that have retrospective effect. So when the money is to be given as per pay commission, it turns up to be a big amount," said Girish Raje, another member of the association.