Suspension of Aadhaar-related services leaves scheme beneficiaries in Ludhiana helpless
With Aadhaar-related services suspended since the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed, many beneficiaries of various government pension schemes, who receive cash at their doorsteps through direct benefit transfer (DBT) offered by post offices, have not been able to avail of the service due to mismatch of biometric details and failure to integrate bank accounts with Aadhaar.
Officials of department of posts, Ludhiana, who have been working to provide door-to-door pension to beneficiaries since the first week of April, say postmen witness issues related to mismatched or incomplete biometric details daily, due to which they have not been able to carry out transactions through Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS).
Punjab Circle has performed 3.89 lakh AEPS transactions and disbursed ₹61.15 crore at the doorsteps of pensioners since the lockdown was imposed. There are around 2.13 lakh pension beneficiaries in the Ludhiana district.
Shamina Khatun, 30, a resident of Shyam Nagar, who visited the Rajguru Nagar post office branch on Thursday to withdraw ₹1,000 (two instalments of ₹500 each) was unable to do so since the machine was unable to match her fingerprints to the account.
“The staff here informed me that this happens only when your account is not linked with Aadhaar. I need money at this time. There is no fixed date as to when Aadhaar services will resume. What is the use of receiving the benefit when I can’t even use it during this difficult period,” Khatun said.
“The elderly are fearful of stepping outside the house due to Covid-19. So, post offices have been very crucial at this time for pension distribution and cash withdrawal,” said Sarita Madan, sub-postmaster of Rajguru branch.
Madan said the branch had been receiving many queries from the public regarding resumption of Aadhaar-related services.
“We are receiving queries from the public in general and even some industrialists who want to get their Aadhaar card updated. In the last week, there have regularly been four to five labourers whose Aadhaar card are lost or want to make some updates. Some workers seek Aadhaar as a proof for online train booking to go to their home states,” she added.
Ludhiana’s senior superintendent of post office, Amanpreet Singh, said the postal department had not received any instructions from the government to resume Aadhaar services so far.
“Aadhaar enrolment or update services were suspended by the government amid the Covid-19 pandemic since it involved thumb impression and iris scanning. We have received demand for the service from the public and we can also start it following government’s instruction,” he added.