Poor Infra Keeps JK From DCT

Poor Infra Keeps JK From DCT

30 December 2012
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: The much-vaunted Direct Cash Transfer (DCT) of subsidizes won’t be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir in the first phase, courtesy the poor infrastructure in the state. According to sources, the centre government has not considered Jammu and Kashmir for the DCT due to lack of its infrastructure namely non-availability of adequate number of banks in rural areas and absence of other requisite facilities necessary for the implementation of the ambitious government of India scheme. “The JK government needs to build adequate infrastructure to ensure transfer of funds electronically into the bank accounts of the poor,” said an official dealing with DCT at New Delhi. Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Qamar Ali Akhoon confirmed to Greater Kashmir that the DCT won’t be implemented in the state in the first phase. “We have not received any intimation from the Centre government regarding DCT and it is most probably that the scheme will be applied here in next phase,” Akhoon said. In the first phase the scheme will be implement in 51 districts in the country including five each in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, four each in Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand, three each in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tripura and two each in Haryana, Kerala and Sikkim. According to present estimates, the government’s expenditure on fuel and fertilizer subsidies stands at around Rs 73,637 crore a year. Ironically, a vast portion of it does not reach to the poor. Under the direct cash subsidy scheme, Central and state grants for as many as 34 schemes (such as LPG and kerosene subsidy, student scholarships, old-age and widow pension schemes, and MGNREGS payments) would be credited directly to the beneficiaries' Aadhaar-enabled bank accounts. Under the scheme, cash transfers will be in the range of Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 on a yearly basis. Overall, Rs 3,20,000 crore will be distributed. The CTS became possible with the identification of the poor after the introduction of Aadhaar, or unique identity scheme. Aadhaar card is an ID card with a 12-digit unique number issued to all the citizens of India (on voluntary basis). It will carry the demographics and biometric information of the holder. Under the system, financial institutions select banking correspondents in the villages and equip them with micro ATMs and a certain amount of cash. The Aadhaar-enabled account holders approach the correspondent and press their thumbs, which work like passwords, on the ATM to authenticate their account numbers. The ATM then displays the balance in his or her account to the beneficiary before allowing withdrawal of money. The correspondents go around villages, carrying the micro ATM to extend banking services to the residents. The DCT scheme is exclusively for Aadhaar card holders and only they are entitled to get cash transfer. As of today, only 21 crore of the 120 crore people in India have Aadhaar cards.