The UPA government’s decision to suspend direct benefit transfer (DBT) for cooking gas can prove to be a setback to its game-changer Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) or Aadhaar project.
The DBT for cooking gas was the biggest grosser for Aadhaar with around 100 million LPG consumers enrolled. Of them about 6.6 crore had got their Aadhaar numbers seeded in bank accounts to become eligible to get the cooking gas subsidy directly.
The petroleum ministry data showed that over Rs. 2,000 crore was disbursed as subsidy to LPG consumers till the end of December — thereby giving some fillip to the UIDAI enrolment. As of now, Aadhaar numbers for 570 million have been generated.
Read: Subsidised LPG cylinder quota hiked from 9 to 12 per year
As compared to DBT for cooking gas, the decision to include 28 social sector schemes on Aadhaar based DBT platform has resulted in disbursement of benefits worth Rs. 1,200 crore till December end. It was less than one-third of the total funds given to beneficiaries, a planning commission official said.
“The DBT for non-cooking gas schemes has been impressive but in other schemes the pace has been slow,” a planning commission official said. “There are a lot of technical issues at the state level which has slowed down the expansion of direct benefit transfer through Aadhaar”.
Read: RBI governor Raghuram Rajan questions LPG cap hike
One of the reasons cited was the inadequate enrolment of people for Aadhaar in areas covered by the Registrar General.
The government has set an year-end deadline for issuing Aadhaar numbers to 1.1 billion eligible residents; 600 million of them will be enrolled by Nandan Nilekani led UIDAI and remaining by the Registrar General.
The UIDAI had enrolled over 400 million and felt that the Census Commissioner’s office was slow in enrolment. It has also proposed to start enrolment in four states which were originally designated as Census Commissioner’s area. The proposal is slated for a discussion in a Cabinet committee. The officials believe that putting DBT for cooking gas on hold will slow down enrolment expansion as there will be no incentive left for people to get the Aadhaar letter.