NEW DELHI: With more than a billion people in the world’s largest biometric database, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent two hours on a review of the performance of the Aadhaar welfare reform scheme, and a twin policy that allows cash to be deposited directly in the bank accounts of those entitled to subsidies.
The PM’s study of the Aadhaar database scheme, which started seven years ago under the previous Congress-led government, concluded that “change is visible on the ground,” according to a senior source present at the meeting. The scheme records the fingerprints and iris signatures of Indians to streamline payment of benefits and cut down on massive wastage and fraud. The Aadhaar number for each person is unique.
Mr Modi was told that in the last year, more than 61,000 crores was distributed to more than 30 crore beneficiaries using the direct transfer system. This included payments under the rural employment scheme or MNREGA as well as discount benefits for LPG or subsidised gas cylinders.
An attendee told NDTV that the government is seeing big savings because of far fewer leaks in the transfer of benefits, and that a major improvement has arisen from weeding out fake or duplicate beneficiaries.
“1.6 crore bogus ration cards have been deleted. That’s a staggering number. This move alone led to a saving of 10,000 crores (over the last year) to the government”, the official told NDTV on the condition of anonymity. A similar effort for MNREGA led to a savings of 3,000 crores- nearly 10 percent of the entire annual budget of the reform.
The PM asked officers to ensure that modifications do not harass or inconvenience the needy who are meant to benefit.
A big new move is that the government is looking to create the equivalent of Aadhaar or a unique ID for non-governmental organizations or NGOs participating in state-run schemes. 71,000 NGOs have been registered so far.