Soon, schemes for individuals will have to migrate to Aadhaar-seeded platform

Govt aims to curb pilferage and eradicate ghost beneficiaries from the system by adopting the Direct Benefit Transfer platform

To curb pilferage and eradicate ghost beneficiaries from the system, the Maharashtra government will make it mandatory for schemes involving individual beneficiaries to migrate to an Aadhaar-seeded Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) platform. The move, which will kick in from April 1, 2017, is expected to save an estimated Rs5,000 crore for the taxpayers and the state government in the next two years.

In the first phase, the state government will cover 253 welfare schemes across 18 departments, including agriculture, animal husbandry, social justice, education, health and tribal development. The basket will be expanded later to include more schemes from the ecosystem.

“From April 1, all individual beneficiary schemes in cash and kind will have to move to Aadhaar-seeded,” said Vijay Kumar Gautam, Principal Secretary, Information Technology (IT). The application forms for these schemes are being re-structured and a business process review and re-engineering was underway, he added.

Gautam said the IT department was working on creating a DBT portal, which would have details of these schemes and beneficiaries. While the Aadhaar numbers will be seeded and validated with bank accounts for schemes where cash is transferred to individual beneficiaries, those which involve benefits in kind will require beneficiaries to undergo a biometric validation.

“We have identified 253 schemes and will take the number to around 350-400 (in the future). Gradually, we will move to a cash transfer model even for schemes where benefits are being given out in kind,” said Gautam. The state government has also established a DBT cell under DK Jain, Additional Chief Secretary, Finance.

Gautam said over 86 per cent Aadhaar seeding for Public Distribution System (PDS) beneficiaries has been completed. The percentage for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was 90 per cent, with 1.50 crore beneficiaries getting Aadhaar-seeded payment, and that for the National Social Assistance Program (NSAP) was also almost 90 per cent. Gautam added that the Aadhaar details had been seeded for around 50 per cent students availing scholarships.

“We expect that in two years, Rs 5,000 crore, which will otherwise have been lost in pilferage, will be saved,” added Gautam.

The Centre has saved Rs36,500 crore because of leakages plugged due to the use of the DBT for Central schemes in 2014-15. Gautam said that Uttar Pradesh managed to save around Rs500 crore by eliminating pilferage in scholarships using DBT.

Maharashtra has 92 per cent Aadhaar coverage with 10.89 crore of its 11.88 crore population (projected population for 2015) being assigned UIDAI numbers as on October 15 this year. While it is near-universal for those above the age of 18 years, the percentage stands at a much lower 43.3% in the zero to five years age group and 83.3% in the five to 18 years age cohort.

The DBT was rolled out on January 1, 2013, for 28 schemes in 43 identified districts across the country, to channelise benefits to the bank accounts of individuals and eliminate duplication and pilferage.