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Govt fast-tracks payments, links welfare plans to Aadhar scheme

Ashish Sinha     February 29, 2012
In a big relief to beneficiaries of various welfare schemes under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), the government has announced that payments will be done through the Unique ID system-Aadhar - from next fiscal.

This would end the circuitous route through which assistance reaches beneficiaries, including senior citizens, widows and the physically disabled, often causing long delays in actual disbursement to people in dire need of grants.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said on Tuesday that the architecture for the new system, being put in place jointly with the Nandan Nilekani-headed Unique ID Authority of India (UIDAI), should be ready by March 10.

"The new system will be a marked improvement over the present one. Time is of essence in implementing assistance schemes. Cases of delays caused are quite common," he said. The four programmes-Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme, Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension and National Family Benefit Scheme- account for an annual outgo of around Rs 8,500 crore at present.

There has been a clamour for enabling changes in NSAP schemes which may be considered by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee when he presents the budget next month.

The disability pension scheme provides a monthly grant of Rs 200 to persons with severe and multiple (or 80 per cent) disabilities. The new proposal if for reducing the criteria to a simple 40 per cent disability for which it is easier to obtain medical certificates. The change would cost an extra Rs 1,000 crore. There is also a suggestion to bring persons in 5-18 age group under the scheme.

The widow pension scheme covers beneficiaries who are more than 40 years old. Women organisations have proposed that all widows above the age of 18 should be covered. This would put an additional annual burden of Rs 220 crore on the exchequer.

The suggestion appears to be in line with the compulsions of the social system and hardships faced by young widows. The one-time grant of Rs 10,000 under the family benefit scheme was fixed in 1996. The money is provided to 'below poverty line' (BPL) families who lose their main breadwinners. The proposal calls for increasing the grant to Rs 20,000 at an additional burden of Rs 435 crore per year.

The primary objective of issuing Aadhar numbers to residents was to ensure that benefits of welfare schemes are better targeted and reach the actual persons on a real-time basis.

Ramesh said that the new architecture would ensure that for the first time. The actual implementation of the new system is critically dependent on the ongoing Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC), which would enumerate BPL families on the basis of inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Courtesy: Mail Today 

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