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Direct Benefit Transfer scheme finally gets going

MONEY MATTERS:Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy at the launch of the DBT scheme at Gollaprolu in East Godavari district on Sunday.— PHOTO: S. RAMBABU

MONEY MATTERS:Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy at the launch of the DBT scheme at Gollaprolu in East Godavari district on Sunday.— PHOTO: S. RAMBABU  

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Despite tall claims scheme launched only in one district instead of five as originally announced

Aadhaar (unique identification number) enrolment will be completed 100 per cent in the State by August-end and the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme extended to all districts, according to Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh.

Announcing this at the launch of the DBT scheme in Andhra Pradesh here on Sunday, he said business correspondents would be appointed by all banks to implement DBT, taking banking to the doorsteps of beneficiaries. Priority would be accorded to members of women self-help groups, Anganwadi workers and Asha volunteers, he stated.

Despite the fanfare and tall claims, several districts in the State lag behind in Aadhar-linked bank accounts, so much so, the DBT was launched only in one district today, instead of five districts as originally announced.

‘Small but historic step’

Terming it “a small but historic step,” Mr. Ramesh said DBT would involve disbursement of pensions, scholarships and MGNREGS payments, besides distribution of commodities under the public distribution system. “Beneficiaries need not make rounds of banks and post offices and business correspondents equipped with micro ATMs will make the payment at their doorsteps, after verifying their identity,” he said. Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy said DBT would help curb bogus ration cards. He added that the interests of genuine beneficiaries would be protected and urged people not to get carried away by the ‘false campaign’ of the Opposition that the DBT was aimed at the removal of PDS. Others present included Ministers Sabita Indra Reddy, Thota Narasimham, P. Balaraju and D. Manikya Varaprasad.

Protest by women

All through the Chief Minister’s speech, there was a voice of protest from women against the increasing prices.

The dissent started in a trickle with just one woman raising a slogan against the increase in power tariff, seeking in vain to draw Mr. Reddy’s attention.

A few minutes later, some more women joined her and raised slogans condemning the increasing prices of LPG, vegetables, pulses and edible oil.

As the decibel levels went up, a posse of women police moved in and so did the cameras of television channels because the press gallery was right next to the women.

The presence of cameras appeared to deter the police from physically removing the protestors.

Although the slogans continued, the Chief Minister went on with his address, completing it sans interruption.

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