Tuesday was the kick-off of the pilot phase of the Union government’s Direct Benefits Transfer scheme and early reports show that despite scaling down the number of districts and schemes to be covered, much work still needs to be done to make the programme a success in the 20 districts in six States.
Symbolic events marked the day and functions were organised. While some districts such as Mumbai were able to crank up the government machinery for the scheme, many others are still lagging in the basic requirements of the programme — creating Aadhaar-linked bank accounts.
Mysore in Karnataka seems well placed for success as it has a 95 per cent Aadhaar enrolment with over 80 per cent of the beneficiaries having Aadhaar-linked accounts. In Puducherry, with 14,400 beneficiaries through 15 Central schemes, cash payouts will begin Wednesday.
In Andhra Pradesh, the scheme did not take off in the five targeted districts.
In Haryana, Ambala and Sonepat districts are covered in the scheme. Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda praised the scheme in a speech but gave little indication of what the government’s plans are.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit formally launched the scheme in two districts with only four Central schemes covering 12,000 beneficiaries. Dharam Pal, Divisional Commissioner of Delhi, said cash transfers will go to Aadhaar-linked bank accounts by April.
An infrastructure for electronic transfers is already in place in the Capital for state schemes. This includes disbursement of old age pension to four lakh beneficiaries and widow pension to around 1.30 lakh.
In Vidarbha, Maharashtra, only around 25 per cent of the 10,82,368 beneficiaries identified have Aadhaar-linked bank accounts.
Rajasthan State Chief Secretary C. K. Mathew said direct cash transfer has started in Alwar, Udaipur and Ajmer. However, the State Government did not announce the number of beneficiaries.
Right to Food Campaign activists from the three districts reported that the Aadhaar-linked bank accounts were yet to be opened for large sections of the population.