50% poor up for ben­e­fits are yet to link Aad­haar

MIS­SION MODE Union govt shoots off let­ter to state so­cial wel­fare depts to bridge the gap

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - HTNATION - Saub­hadra Chat­terji

NEW DELHI: More than half the poor­est of In­dia’s poor, en­ti­tled to monthly doles, have not had their Aad­haar de­tails ver­i­fied with the au­thor­i­ties, prompt­ing the Cen­tre to push the states to bridge the gap in a “mis­sion mode”.

The Cen­tre acted in line with the Septem­ber judg­ment of the Supreme Court that al­lowed the govern­ment to make the 12-digit unique iden­tity num­ber manda­tory for ac­cess­ing govern­ment sub­si­dies and wel­fare schemes, while or­der­ing that it could not make it a con­di­tion for op­er­at­ing bank ac­counts or buy­ing mo­bile phone con­nec­tions.

The Na­tional So­cial As­sis­tance Pro­gramme (NSAP) is tar­geted at the old, wid­owed, dis­abled and preg­nant mem­bers of poor house­holds.

Of­fi­cials ar­gue that seed­ing of Aad­haar with bank or post of­fice sav­ings ac­counts and bio­met­ric de­tails, and get­ting them ver­i­fied by state gov­ern­ments makes it eas­ier for peo­ple to re­ceive pay­ments.

On November 1, Union ru­ral de­vel­op­ment sec­re­tary Amar­jeet Sinha wrote to states that “out of the 2.84 crore reg­is­tered ben­e­fi­cia­ries of NSAP, Aad­haar seed­ing in re­spect of 1.92 crore has been com­pleted and out of th­ese seeded Aad­haar num­bers, 1.02 crore ben­e­fi­cia­ries are such in whose cases Aad­haar en­tries have been ver­i­fied.”

“The ... gap be­tween to­tal num­ber of ben­e­fi­cia­ries and ben­e­fi­cia­ries with ver­i­fied Aad­haar num­ber is huge and needs spe­cial ef­forts from your end,” the let­ter to so­cial wel­fare sec­re­taries in the states, a copy of which has been seen by Hindustan Times, said.

The ru­ral de­vel­op­ment min­istry, which an­chors sev­eral so­cial schemes in­clud­ing the NSAP, has been us­ing the unique iden­tity, clubbed with the So­cio-eco­nomic Caste Cen­sus data, to iden­tify ben­e­fi­cia­ries and trans­fer the money to their ac­counts, by­pass­ing pos­si­ble routes of leak­age.

NSEP in­cludes the Na­tional Old Age Pen­sion Scheme for the des­ti­tute aged above 65 years; a dis­abil­ity pen­sion grant to a be­reaved house­hold upon death of the “pri­mary bread­win­ner”; and the Na­tional Maternity Ben­e­fit Scheme of mon­e­tary help to women dur­ing preg­nancy.

Sinha asked the states to com­plete the ver­i­fi­ca­tion ex­er­cise “with­out any fur­ther de­lay.” He also un­der­lined that to ad­dress the po­ten­tial fail­ure of Aad­haar­based au­then­ti­ca­tion, “al­ter­na­tive meth­ods for iden­ti­fy­ing such per­sons shall be adopted af­ter find­ing the causes of fail­ure.”

Econ­o­mist Ri­tika Khera said the use of Aad­haar in NSAP was a “ter­ri­ble idea” that may lead to ex­clu­sion and other prob­lems for the ben­e­fi­cia­ries. “In an Aad­haar-based sys­tem, no one else can with­draw money in a re­cip­i­ent’s ac­count.

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