Government gives Aadhaar push, centralises DBT payments

In a major reform, the state government has centralised Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) payments to beneficiaries under various schemes to plug leakage. And with this, payments will be made to only those bank accounts that are seeded with Aadhaar.

At present, respective departments transfer subsidies and other benefits directly to beneficiary bank accounts, even if they are not linked with Aadhaar.

Going forward, the Core DBT Portal “will be the only means through which DBT payments shall be made by various departments,” according to a government order issued on August 13, a copy of which is with DH.

It was in November 2016 that Karnataka adopted DBT as the mandatory disbursal mechanism for cash benefits to beneficiaries. Since then, benefits worth an estimated Rs 17,471 crore have been pushed into beneficiary bank accounts. “Now, beneficiaries will have to notify any one bank account seeded with Aadhaar for DBT,” Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) I S N Prasad said.

The Core DBT Portal will mark the full-fledged deployment of Aadhaar-enabled payment system.

“While schemes are linked with Aadhaar, payment is happening purely based on bank accounts. All we’ll need now is the beneficiary Aadhaar number and payment will be made to the bank account linked with it,” Additional Chief Secretary (e-Governance) Rajeev Chawla said.

Authorities believe centralising DBT, coupled with the use of Aadhaar, can stop leakage. “There was no way to know if a department was pushing excess money into someone’s bank account. But now we will have this information,” Chawla said. “Bank accounts keep changing, but Aadhaar doesn’t change.”  

The portal will be a safe repository of beneficiary Aadhaar data and payments will be made after a secondary name-match verification. The portal is enabled to check with the National Payments Corporation of India whether an Aadhaar number is seeded correctly. “If we find that the beneficiary’s name in Aadhaar and the bank account don’t match, the DBT will be withheld,” Chawla explained. “The idea is to ensure government money goes to the right person.”

This also means that departments will not have direct access to beneficiary Aadhaar data.

“The DBT portal will keep Aadhaar numbers in an encrypted format in a vault, while departments will be given IDs for beneficiaries. These IDs will be mapped with Aadhaar numbers at the backend,” Chawla said. The government hopes that Aadhaar becomes the basis for transfer of all beneficiary-oriented money by the end of this year.

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