LPG, MNREGA go Well With Aadhaar, But PDS, Pension Not So

BENGALURU:  The seeding process of Aadhaar numbers with various Central and State government welfare schemes has evoked mixed reaction from the people.

Officials, however, maintain that it is an ongoing process and has also helped in weeding out several bogus documents such as fake ration cards and bogus cards of  National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).

According to data from Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), seeding of Aadhaar numbers for DBT of LPG subsidies (DBTL), NREGA and scholarship schemes have been encouraging. However, data shows that there aren’t many takers for Aadhaar-based DBT for Public Distribution System (PDS) and pension schemes.

Even though it is not mandatory, 67 per cent of LPG customers eligible for subsidies have seeded their Aadhaar numbers with LPG and bank account numbers, facilitating DBTL. Authorities believe that the seeding for DBTL will increase over the next few months, along with an increase in awareness about the benefits of the scheme. As of December 2015, there were 1.3 crore (1,03,04,022) beneficiaries for LPG subsidies, of which 69.28 lakh (69,28,255) have seeded their Aadhaar numbers.

Aadhaar seeding of NREGA has also helped in bringing down the number of bogus cards. The number of beneficiaries which was close to 75 lakh in 2014, had reduced to 51.72 lakh by December 2015. With the dip in beneficiary numbers, enrolment percentage has also gone up. Currently, 75 per cent or 38.98 lakh beneficiaries of NREGA have seeded their Aadhaar cards.

While several scholarship schemes of State and Central governments are yet to be seeded with Aadhaar, beneficiaries of post-metric SC/ST scholarships have seeded their Aadhaar numbers in good numbers. Of the 3,70,202 students who benefit from such scholarship, 2,74,876 have completed the seeding process.

However, efforts to weed out bogus ration cards by seeding Aadhaar numbers of beneficiaries has been met with non-cooperation from ration card holders. Of the 4.7 crore beneficiaries, only 24 lakh or five per cent of them have seeded their numbers.

Pension Schemes Not Working

Similarly, Aadhaar seeding for benefits of pensions schemes of the Centre is progressing at a snails pace. Seeding of Aadhaar numbers of only 30 per cent of beneficiaries have been completed till date.

Commenting on Aadhaar seeding of ration cards, Principal Secretary of Food and Civil Supplies Department, Kalpana G said that the process of compiling data on the same was currently on. “Collecting Aadhaar numbers via SMS only was not viable. Therefore, the numbers are being collected at Fair Price Shops too,” she said. While UIDAI said that 24 lakh beneficiaries had seeded, Kalpana said that the number was close to 45 lakh. “The process of digitisation of the collected data is now on. The Department will take a few more months to digitise data and validate it,” she added.

Sources in the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department confirmed that seeding NREGA job-cards with Aadhaar numbers have helped in reducing the number of cards issued. “Earlier, several fake cards were issued and funds were siphoned off by vested interests. This has helped in preventing the same,” the official added.

Weeding out The bogus ones

Aadhar seeding of NREGA has helped authorities identify the bogus cards. As the number of beneficiaries of NREGA reduce, the enrolment  percentage for Aadhar cards have gone up. However, the same phenomena is not seen with ration cards. Ration-card holders are not as cooperative as seen by the fact that only 5 per cent of them have seeded their Aadhar numbers.