The UPA government’s big poll plank, direct cash transfer, has been whittled down even before being implemented from January 1, 2013.
India’s big old age and widow pension security scheme, National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), does not find mention among the 34 central schemes that would move into direct cast transfer mode from next January.
Finance minister P Chidambaram had announced that benefits under 42 Central schemes would be transferred directly into Aadhaar enabled bank accounts in 51 districts from January 1, 2013.
The Planning Commission on Tuesday said that cash transfer would be applicable only to 34 schemes in 43 districts following a video-conferencing meeting with district magistrates and secretaries of the concerned ministers.
The eight districts removed from the list are in election bound Himachal and Gujarat, but the election commission’s directive has come as a blessing in disguise as enrollment for Unique Identification (Aadhaar) number in four district of Gujarat ranged from six to 12%. The government had selected the districts believing that 80% of people would have Aadhaar numbers when the project is rolled out.
The plan panel, mandated to coordinate government’s efforts to implement cash transfer, has not put any big pension scheme in the list probably because the records of beneficiaries are not digitized and many of them live in remote areas where internet connectivity would be poor.
“Pensions are paid in different modes and integrating them is a problem,” said a senior government official. Pensions are disbursed through bank or post office accounts, cheque or money order and in cash.
The selection of the schemes shows that the government wants to showcase success of direct cash transfer. In fact, 29 schemes are purely scholarships given to students from schools to colleges, where the benefit is already being in a cash transfer mode.