Adopting caution, the Union government on Monday scaled down the launch of its ambitious direct cash transfer scheme on Tuesday to 20 districts, instead of 43 as planned. It has also kept LPG also out of its ambit for now.

The government took this decision because a sizeable number of beneficiaries in the targeted districts do not have bank accounts to receive cash and the Aadhaar enrolment is also inadequate.

Touted as a game-changer, the programme will cover a select 26 schemes such as educational scholarship for SC/ST and OBC, and widow pension. Food, fertilizers, diesel and kerosene have already been kept out.

Addressing the media on the eve of the rollout, Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the programme was being launched on January 1 in only 20 districts in six States and three Union Territories as the government wanted to move cautiously.

“We are proceeding with a great degree of caution ... We will look at transferring all subsidies and benefit through this scheme but we have to do it slowly. We are not going to rush into anything and then find that the system cannot cope with it,” the Minister said.

The government originally identified 51 districts across 16 States to be covered by the programme, under which cash subsidy benefit will directly go to the bank account of the beneficiaries having Aadhaar number.

Himachal, Gujarat exempted

Subsequently, four districts each in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat were exempted from the rollout because of the Assembly elections recently held there. The States to be covered in the initial phase are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab and the UTs of Puducherry, Chandigarh and Daman and Diu.

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