‘Jan-Dhan’ account big hurdle to government welfare schemes

Updated on Sep 17, 2017 08:08 PM IST
32 thousand families deprived from getting benefits of ‘PM Awas yojana’.
An incomplete house, which was being built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.(HT Photo)
An incomplete house, which was being built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.(HT Photo)
Hindustan Times | ByMukesh Mathrani, Barmer

All that Kanwari Devi had ever dreamt of was to own a house that she could call her own. So, when the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) in June 2015 to help economically weaker sections get affordable pucca houses with proper sanitation and power supply, Kanwari saw her dream coming true.

A resident of Baitu block in Rajasthan’s Barmer district, she applied for the financial assistance offered by the government and was selected as a beneficiary under the scheme under which the government aims to construct more than two crore houses across the country by the year 2022.

Under the scheme, there is a provision of granting Rs 1.48 lakh to the beneficiary --- Rs 1.20 lakh under PM Awas Yojana; Rs 12,000 for toilet construction under Swachh Bharat Mission; and Rs 16,000 under MGNREGA for labour component.

The financial assistance is released in three instalments. The first --- Rs 30,000 --- is released after successful geo-tagging of the location where eligible beneficiary wants to build the house. The second instalment of Rs 60,000 is released after the concerned agency verifies successful utilisation of the first instalment. The remaining amount is released as third instalment for completing the project.

For Kanwari, things were progressing smoothly. The work began on her house began in the right earnest. The first instalment was transferred in her savings bank account, the one she had got opened under another of PM Modi’s flagship projects – the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY).

She utilised the money, submitted the details, and after successful certification was marked eligible for the second instalment. The money was released on March 3, 2017, but could not get credited into her account. She is still waiting for it.

No, her money has not been usurped by touts or officials.

It cannot be credited due to an upper limit of transaction fixed by the government for the bank accounts opened under PMJDY. As per the norms, an account holder cannot keep more than Rs 50,000 in the PMJDY account.

Launched as a national mission for financial inclusion of the economically weaker section by providing them bank accounts and debit cards, the PMJDY has now become the biggest roadblock for PM Awas Yojana and for those it intends to help.

Kanwari Devi is not the only one facing such a situation. Shanti Devi, another resident of Baitu, too is waiting for the second instalment. The money was released on March 17, but is yet to be credited into her PMJDY account.

According to official data, there are 32,692 beneficiaries in Rajasthan alone are waiting for the second instalment of the financial assistance. Of these, 2,856 cases have been reported in Barmer district alone. In all the cases, the money hasn’t been credited owing to the upper transaction limit.

M L Nehra, chief executive officer at Zila Parishad in Barmer confirmed as much. “We are facing problems in crediting the second instalment into the beneficiaries’ accounts. Banks have returned the amount citing the upper limit restriction on Jan Dhan accounts,” Nehra said.

He, however, added that they have directed the block level authorities to request the banks to convert the Jan Dhan accounts into general savings accounts so that they could release the second instalment for the PM Awas Yojana.

Laxman Badera, the district president, Kamtha Majdoor Union, a labour organization, questioned the government’s motive behind creating such norms for the Jan Dhan accounts. “It is a contradictory situation. On one hand, the government is chanting the mantra of welfare scheme and on the other they have laid such norms that deprive the eligible beneficiaries of the benefits of welfare schemes. It also creates hurdles in achieving the welfare scheme targets,” Badera said.

He said, with such contradictory norms, it won’t be possible for the government to ensure housing for all by 2022. “We have written a letter to the PM urging him to immediately remove the upper limit of transaction for the PMJDY accounts so that the weaker sections could get the benefit of the other welfare schemes,” he added.

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