A question mark hangs over the proposed launch this fiscal of the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), also know as Direct Cash Transfer (DCT) scheme, for LPG and kerosene.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has informed a Parliamentary panel that the low penetration of seeding Aadhaar numbers in the bank accounts of the beneficiaries could delay the launch.

In the initial phase, the scheme is expected to cover 20 districts, and in the second phase 31 districts.

Under the scheme, LPG cylinders will be sold at non-subsidised price to consumers, and the subsidy will be credited to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries, using the Aadhaar number.

Oil marketing companies (OMCs) will seed the Aadhaar number in the beneficiaries’ data base, and parallelly in their data base by banks. This will act as the financial address to which the subsidy will be credited. If the Aadhaar number and the bank account are not seeded, the money cannot be transferred, the Ministry informed the Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas, whose report was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

The Ministry told the panel that the Aadhaar penetration in specific areas was around 80 per cent, and nearly 70 per cent of the beneficiaries had given their Aadhaar numbers to LPG distributors. But the LPG consumers had not given their Aadhaar numbers to banks. So, seeding of Aadhaar numbers in bank accounts was only about 20 per cent.

“As of now, in the pilot districts of Mysore, Wardha and Pondicherry, only 20-25 per cent of the beneficiaries are ready to receive money directly through bank transfer, which is too low. So, we are a bit worried, and are trying to see how best we can increase the link between the Aadhaar number and the bank account. We have to find a solution to this problem,’’ the Ministry told the Parliamentary panel.

The Ministry said the DBT scheme had been started to tackle the increasing under-recoveries of OMCs, and diversion of domestic subsidised cylinder to commercial users. Once the scheme is fully implemented across the country, the subsidy burden on the government will reduce.