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Maharashtra: Direct cash transfer gets a slow start

Feb 07, 2013 10:03 AM IST India India

Mumbai: The ambitious game changer of the UPA-II, the Aadhaar linked direct cash transfer has had a very slow start in Maharasthra, owing to the low penetration of the Aadhaar card itself in the state. Officials in the state feel the start of direct cash transfer is ensuring that more beneficiaries and bureaucrats get serious about completing formalities of linking banks to Aadhaar cards.

10-year-old Rehan works in the family's cattle-rearing business in Amravati. School was a distant dream until the National Child Labour project identified him. But it was only in January 2013 that Rehan's continued education became a certainty. As one of the first beneficiaries of the Aadhaar linked direct cash transfer, Rehan will now receive a monthly stipend in his very own bank account.

But Rehan is only one of the five children out of 1,000 eligible ones who could avail this benefit. Figures for other scheme beneficiaries are also low.

Only 85 people in the entire Amravati district have got the benefit of direct cash transfer. The total number of beneficiaries of Aadhaar-approved schemes in the district is 1 lakh. But of these only 20,000 have Aadhaar cards. In the other two districts in Maharashtra where the scheme has been implemented, Wardha topped with 1259 cash transfers whereas Pune could only manage five.

Officials say pilot districts were selected based on total Aadhaar enrollments and not based on enrollment of actual beneficiaries, which has led to low cash transfers. Only 30 per cent beneficiaries have Aadhaar cards, which is why instead of lining up outside banks to claim benefits, villagers in the Chandurbazaar tehsil in Amravati are lining up outside the sole Aadhaar enrollment centre. Some came back because their Aadhaar card had spelling errors and banks refused to accept them.

Agents seated under trees outside government offices help villagers interpret the bureaucratic procedure. The administration admitted it might take another four months to complete all procedures. As officials work overtime to collate data of beneficiaries in the distant Sirajgaon village, 70-year-old Sumitrabai armed with an Aadhaar card and bank account, waits for the government to include her in the direct cash transfer.