State prefers its own e-benefit transfer to DBT

Finds the Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer unreliable and not so feasible

The State government appears to have found its own Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) more reliable than the Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for crediting social security pensions (SSP) and wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) directly to the beneficiaries' bank accounts.

Faced with numerous complaints on the implementation of DBT from various field departments, the government has decided to scale up enrolment of beneficiaries under EBT in seven districts where it has been taken up on pilot basis.  It has set a target to double the enrolment under EBT by November this year. About 11.71 lakh beneficiaries, including both SSP (4.23 lakh) and MGNREGS (7.48 lakh), have been enrolled as on May this year, official sources said.

Under EBT, payment is made through electronic mode with the help of banks to the beneficiaries' bank accounts. A smart card is issued to the beneficiaries. They can draw their wages or pensions from the nearest bank or with the help of business correspondents using the card.

The government has signed a memorandum of understanding with six nationalised banks to extend this service. Like DBT, EBT too is aimed at preventing misuse of wages and pensions.

Enrolment process

Though EBT was launched in 2008, the government had subsequently put the enrolment process under it on hold for over four years as the Centre came up with DBT. The intention was to prevent any duplication.

But Chief Secretary S V Ranganath recently directed the Revenue department and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) department to speed up the enrolment under EBT. Bellary, Chitradurga, Gulbarga, Yadgir, Chamarajnagar, Dharwad and Mandya are seven EBT pilot districts.

The government, sources said, does not want to risk taking the decision to bring SSP and MGNREGS under DBT as these schemes cover large number of people in rural areas.  The main problem the government has encountered with the DBT is seeding or linking of Aadhaar numbers with the beneficiaries’ bank account and with the centralised database.

Data mismatch

Of the total 1.05 lakh beneficiaries of various Central and State subsidies schemes (other than SSP and MGNREGS) in Mysore, Tumkur and Dharwad districts, where DBT has been taken up on pilot basis, more than 30 per cent has been rejected at the time of seeding.

This is because of mismatch of data. Officials are finding it difficult to obtain the exact biometric details of the beneficiaries, especially those who are aged and labourers, sources said. Aadhaar number and bank accounts of only about 40,000 beneficiaries have been seeded properly till May this year in the three pilot districts. The pilot project was launched in January this year.

Besides, a test check on the feasibility of implementing DBT for SSP has revealed that many beneficiaries, especially aged and labourers, struggle to get their pensions credited to the Aadhaar-linked bank accounts as their biometric details do not match.

The National Payment Corporation, through which the payment is routed under DBT, rejects the payment if biometric details does not match, officials explained.

Moreover, officials said, non-availability of adequate number of business correspondents in rural area is a cause for concern to the government. Currently, a beneficiary has to travel a long distance to meet a business correspondent in three DBT pilot districts.

When contacted, Ranganath said a decision has been taken to go ahead with the pilot EBT project. There are number of issues involved in implementing DBT and steps are being taken to resolve them, he added.

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