Maharashtra likely to roll out centralised portal for all welfare schemes

To speed up the seeding of Aadhaar numbers with other databases for direct benefit transfers and weeding out ineligible beneficiaries from welfare schemes, the state government is planning to develop an integrated, centralised portal for use by all departments.

This centralised facility, which may be rolled out in January, will help achieve universal seeding for various welfare schemes and also do away with the duplication of effort by different departments, which otherwise send officials to collect details from the same set of beneficiaries.

Senior state information technology (IT) department officials told dna that this portal would speed up seeding for the public distribution system (PDS) and MGNREGA among other such schemes, where universal seeding between the databases has not been achieved. The field staff will collect the Aadhaar numbers and punch it in the programme database.

“This will speed up seeding,” the official noted, adding that the Centre’s ambitious plans to push the trinity of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) to enable social security, delivery of welfare schemes and financial inclusion would also get a boost. The Jan Dhan account numbers can also be linked to this database.

“This is at the planning stage,” M Sankaranarayanan, director, (IT), told dna. “It will prevent duplication (of efforts by various departments). A common form has been designed for the survey. At present, various departments turn up at the door of one family for the same beneficiary.” This will be replaced by a common survey for one beneficiary, who will be mapped in one go.

Though around 75% of the 1.8 crore beneficiaries (workers) of the MGNREGA have been seeded, Sankaranarayanan said the number of active workers was just around 35 lakh. Of these active workers, 24 lakh have seen their seeding with Aadhaar being completed.

Similarly, in PDS, where just around 50% of the 7 crore beneficiaries have their Aadhaar numbers linked to their databases, around 45% to 50% of the poor households, which get maximum benefit in terms of ration, have been seeded on priority. Seeding is not at a very high level in social security pensions and scholarship schemes, the centralised portal will help change that too.

“Any monetary benefit (transfer) by the government can be done through the Aadhaar-linked account of the beneficiary, besides curbing de-duplication of databases and weeding out (ineligible beneficiaries),” noted Sankaranarayanan.

The money for various schemes can also be withdrawn through Aadhaar authentication based on the banking correspondent model. Here, these correspondents with micro ATMs will ensure biometric authentication of the beneficiaries before they withdraw the money. This will ensure that only the eligible get to withdraw.

Based on population data for 2015, the percentage of those below the age of five who have Aadhaar cards is just about 23% as compared to around 77% between the ages of five and 18 and 95% among those above 18.

The Supreme Court has extended the voluntary use of the Aadhaar card to the MGNREGA, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, pension and provident fund schemes, apart from the public distribution system and LPG subsidy.