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Direct cash transfer scheme in Ajmer leaves people confused

Feb 06, 2013 09:53 AM IST India India

Ajmer: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi launched the Aadhaar-based direct benefits transfer scheme in Ajmer months back. Over a month since its implementation, the supposed game changer of the UPA-II has little to boast about.

College student Ajay Kumar, who scored 68 per cent marks in class 12, is yet to receive his scholarship even after much running around to get his Aadhaar enrolment slip in time. "It should have come by January 1, I'd filled up the form in August. But it has not come. I've heard in some other district scholarships have been transferred into accounts," Ajay said.

Aadhaar card applicants are faced not just with long queues, but technical issues. Those who do manual work find it difficult to get biometric impressions, a must for the card. Tilonia sarpanch Kamla has been rejected five times. "Earlier when we went to post offices to get accounts opened we did not need Aadhaar cards. Now they say we will, this is complicating the process. They tell us get the card, where do we get it from," Kamla asked.

On January 1, the Rajasthan government carried out a scaled down rollout, with just eight schemes covering about 20,000 target beneficiaries in Ajmer.

But the truly telling number is that of those who've got their benefits transferred to their Aadhaar seeded bank accounts, which is how the scheme is ultimately set to function and that number is 60 against 25 lakh, the final target in Ajmer, the proverbial drop in the ocean.

Beneficiaries who have been getting handouts by cheques don't understand how this scheme is any different. The only difference is that these are account payee cheques rather than bearer cheques. A student in AJmer, Mamta, said, "Earlier also we got the money into the account, now also. There's no difference."

Activists feel in rushing the scheme's implementation, the government could well be losing the plot. "When you have an unworkable system and scheme then the core idea itself is being questioned. You're imposing a system that is showing itself to be unworkable," social activist Nikhil Dey said.

If with the current lack of preparedness PDS and MNREGA are linked to it, it'll end up leading to large scale exclusion of people instead of directly dishing out benefits. Ironically in Ajmer where Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi announced the launch of Aadhaar based direct benefits transfer scheme, it's a story of confusion, snail's paced implementation and precious little difference on the ground.