Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched the direct cash transfer system under the Aadhaar scheme on Saturday, marking the integration of the much-hyped Unique Identification Number (UID) project with government-run welfare programmes.
Touting the 'Aadhaar Enabled Service Delivery' as a mechanism to minimise corruption in implementation of social and economic welfare schemes, the PM said it would ensure that the benefits reach the targeted population.
The initiative was rolled out at a public function at Dudu, 66 km from Jaipur in Rajasthan, where UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi delivered the 21st crore Aadhaar card to Vali, a woman from Kurawar in Udaipur district.
The cash transfer service linked to government schemes - such as public distribution system (PDS), distribution of subsidised LPG cylinders and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGNREGS) - was rolled out in 51 districts across the country.
Asserted that his government was aiming at "maximum use of technology" to "make the administration accountable and bring transparency", the Prime Minister said the Aadhaar-based service would enable two crore elderly get old age pension, three crore families avail health insurance under the National Health Insurance Scheme and more than five crore people receive MGNREGS benefits.
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"Their payments would directly be credited to their respective bank accounts," Singh said, adding that this would prevent any pilferage in social security benefits and subsidies. "On the basis of Aadhaar, we can ensure that benefits of schemes reach the genuine beneficiaries and that there is no mediator," he said.
Currently, 23 crore residents have enrolled for the Aadhaar card generated by the UID Authority of India (UIDAI), which has been mandated to cover a total population of 60 crore across 18 states by March 2014.
The PM said the Aadhaar number would also help people open bank accounts, get new telephone connections and even book air and rail tickets.
Sonia, who was the chief guest at the function, commended UIDAI and underlined that Aadhaar was the "world's largest social inclusion programme".
"It is another step towards realising the dreams of late Rajiv Gandhi, who wanted the use of technology for the benefit of the aam admi," she said.
Finance minister P. Chidambaram, UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia were also present at the function. "The poor will benefit the most from Aadhaar as the government will be able to correctly identify beneficiaries of various social sector schemes based on the Aadhaar number," Chidambaram said.
In association with Mail Today