States yet to compile data for schemes

States yet to compile data for schemes

Shift to cash-transfer mode likely to start on July 1

Though less than a month is left before the Centre starts shifting to the cash-transfer mode to pay pension to poor widows, senior citizens and the disabled, many states are yet to start compiling details of the beneficiaries’ bank accounts, where the money would be directly deposited.

A recent review by the Ministry of Rural Development found that many states, including Karnataka, Gujarat, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, had not yet compiled the bank account details of even a single widow, senior citizen or disabled person covered by the three pension schemes under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP).

The Centre has, over the past few months, been pressing states to seed the database of NSAP with bank account details of beneficiaries of the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme, Indira Gandhi National Old-Age Pension Scheme and Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme.

The move was initiated to facilitate direct transfer of pension to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries. It, however, apparently failed to take off, although the Union Government is keen to start shifting to cash transfer mode to make payments under NSAP from July 1, beginning with 121 districts across the country.

An alarmed MoRD recently sent letters to state governments asking them to expedite seeding of the NSAP database with bank account details of the three pension schemes‘ beneficiaries. NSAP is one of the welfare schemes that the Union Government wants to cover in  the first phase of the rollout of its ambitious Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) programme.  

S Vijay Kumar, Secretary of the MoRD, wrote to R V Ranganath, Chief Secretary of Karnataka Government, that while the state has 3,09,539 beneficiaries covered by the three pension schemes, the bank account details of not even one had so far been seeded into the NSAP database.

“Considering the fact that the time at our disposal before the rollout of DBT is only about one month, this is a matter of grave concern,” Vijay Kumar wrote, requesting Ranganath to “instruct the concerned department to take urgent action not only for updating the database of all pension beneficiaries, but also to seed the database with the bank account details as well as Aadhaar numbers”. The MoRD has set June 10 as the deadline for compiling the bank accounts of all the beneficiaries of the three pension schemes. Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh will review the progress on June 11 next.

The MoRD secretary sent out similar missives to the chief secretaries of all the states which are yet to start seeding of the NSAP databases with bank account details.