PMO pushes cash transfer, BJP cries foul
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"The cash transfer scheme is for the entire country but the two states where elections are being held should have been excluded. If you make an announcement before the elections are due, the party in power at the Centre can benefit," L K Advani said after petitioning the EC.
The government, however, rejected the BJP contention saying it was not a new scheme because the finance minister had announced it during the budget speech this year. "A promise made in the union budget," the PMO tweeted to counter the BJP's allegations.
The government had on November 26 announced that by the end of next year beneficiaries of 42 central government schemes would be given cash instead of the benefits. Setting an ambitious time-line, seen as aimed at the next general elections, the government announced that the programme would be launched in 51 districts from January 1, cover 18 states by April and the entire country by the end of next year.
Doubts have been raised about the feasibility of such an ambitious time-line considering the lack of banking infrastructure in rural areas and Aadhar numbers still to be distributed to all beneficiaries. Chatterji, however, informed the ministries about the tasks assigned to them.
"The main issue which you need to focus on is ensuring that you have a complete list of beneficiaries in digitized form seeded with Aadhaar numbers for your schemes. Digitisation of beneficiaries' database is critical for rolling out direct cash transfers and maximum effort on this needs to be put in at the states and district levels," he said.
Implementation committees in each of the ministries have been directed to meet weekly to supervise progress, a PMO statement said. In a letter to Nandan Nilekani, chairman of UIDAI which is giving Aadhaar numbers, Chatterji has asked for the deputation of dedicated individuals to the nine ministries to help them with technical issues.