Govt hopes to save Rs45,000 cr through Aadhaar seeding of DBT accounts

Government will now go ahead with Aadhar seeding of bank accounts of all beneficieries of both the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana after the Aadhar was passed in both houses of parliament and is ready to be signed into law.

Around 97 per cent of the adult population in the country already has the unique identity number, and now with statutory backing, the government is prepared to go the whole hog with Aadhaar seeding of beneficiaries' accounts.

On an average the government transfers over Rs6,000 crore to beneficiary accounts every month. It expects nearly Rs45,000 crore in annual savings once all accounts are Aadhar seeded.

At present, 56 schemes across 14 ministries are using the DBT route to reach 298.6 million beneficiaries. Almost 60 per cent of all beneficiaries' data are Aadhaar seeded and once all accounts are seeded it will ensure all are included in the scheme.

However, no one will be excluded from the scheme for lack of an aadhar number, sources pointed out.

''There will not be any exclusion from scheme benefits if Aadhaar seeding is not there, but the idea is to encourage it as it will ensure better delivery of services and cut down on fake beneficiaries,'' said a senior government official.

For the government, the main concern is leakages in subsidy bill, which has to be reigned in in order to lower its subsidy bill. At the same time, a large number of the DBT beneficiaries still do not have Aadhaar seeding.

The DBT scheme has expanded significantly and the government is hoping to bring in more schemes and ministries involved in cash transfers under the DBT platform.

In many cases, it has been noted that while the beneficiary may have an Aadhaar number it has not been included in his/her data.

In January of the Rs6,031 crore transferred through DBT, just 37.36 per cent of the funds (or Rs2,253.4 crore), were transferred using the Aadhaar Bridge Payment (a centralised electronic transfer system).

While the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme transferred Rs3,265.7 crore to 97.9 million beneficiaries in January through DBT, only 58 per cent of the beneficiaries had their accounts seeded with Aadhaar, 23.3 per cent of the cash was transferred through the Aadhaar Bridge Payment.

Similarly, PAHAL or the DBT for cooking gas had 16.49 crore beneficiaries in January, of which, about a third did not have Aadhaar seeding. A total of Rs2,288.37 crore was transferred under the scheme.

Aadhaar seeding even for bank accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is low as only 93.2 million of the 212.2 million accounts were Aadhaar seeded as of 9 March.