With the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) eliciting good response, the government is now looking to open about 100 million new bank accounts by January 26, 2015, compared to the original target of 75 million.
Bank accounts being opened under PMJDY are critical for the success of the direct benefit transfer for LPG (DBTL), which will be rolled out nationwide on January 1, 2015. Under the scheme , the subsidy amount of around Rs 400 per LPG cylinder will be transferred directly into beneficiaries’ bank accounts.
“We have already achieved the target… Over 7 crore (70 million) zero balance savings accounts have already been opened under the scheme, which would be linked to directing subsidies directly. We are now looking at about 10 crore (100 million) new accounts by January 26,”a senior finance ministry official said.
“A meeting would be held this week to take stock. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keeping a close watch on the progress of the scheme,” he added.
The DBTL scheme has already been launched in 54 districts in 11 states. The increased number of bank accounts would boost the efforts to service the 160 million LPG customers in India.
The PMJDY accounts will also facilitate transfer of subsidy to eligible citizens under various other government-run welfare schemes. Subsidy flow into these accounts will boost low-cost deposit for the banks and provide overdraft and loan facilities to the account holders.
The government is also looking at making subsidised LPG available in smaller cylinders.
“After the country wide roll out of DBTL, consumers will have to pay the Rs 810 for a regular 14.2 LPG cylinder. Many poor people cannot afford it, and need only 2-3 kg of cooking gas a month. Smaller 5 kg subsidised cylinders will be introduced shortly to make life easier for crores of Indians,” oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan had told HT last week.
Of the 72.4 million accounts opened under PMJDY so far, 42.9 million are in rural areas and the rest in urban areas.
The PMJDY, besides providing a basic banking account, also has provision for a Rupay debit card with an inbuilt accident insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh. Officials said Rupay cards have been issued to 39.7 million accounts.