Several states told the UPA government to conduct a reality check of its ambitious cash transfer project on Thursday, asserting that January 1 was a far too ambitious deadline - especially without the requisite technological assistance.
To assess the situation on the ground, the PMO had called a meeting of chief secretaries of 16 states and collectors of 43 districts, where the direct cash transfer scheme has to be rolled out from January 1, 2013.
Though the roll-out of the cash transfer scheme in pilot areas had covered only a few hundreds of people, it still turned out to be far from seamless. "Many beneficiaries were left out because they did not have a bank account," said a district collector who participated in the meeting. "Covering the entire district will take much more time."
While one official identified low penetration of the UID as a reason of concern, others said it was the lack of resources for digitising all the records in English. In many states, the beneficiary data is in the local language.
The Centre assured financial assistance of Rs. 10 per person for seeding the Aadhaar number after the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said it can only provide technical assistance.
Pulak Chatterjee, the principal secretary to the PM, emphasised on the road map for ensuring the smooth transition from paper to paper-less system, and assured financial help for the same.