New Delhi, Aug. 1: India's experiment to deliver services through unique identification numbers is set for a reality check in 46 districts.
The rural development ministry and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) yesterday decided to use the unique identity (Aadhar) numbers with in-built biometric data for delivery of payments to individual beneficiaries under all ministry schemes.
To start with, the ministry has selected these 46 districts where the Aadhar coverage has been substantial.
"Payment of individual beneficiaries under various schemes is to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore per annum. Schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) suffer from issues like delayed payment and fake workers. We are going to make payment through Aadhar-linked (bank) accounts in 46 districts," rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had last month voiced concern over delayed payments under the job scheme, which seeks to provide employment to every rural household for at least 100 days in a year.
Ramesh said banking correspondents would be engaged for delivery of payments to beneficiaries. These correspondents, equipped with Aadhar-enabled micro ATMs, will visit individual beneficiaries and pay them wages after verifying their identity.
The 46 districts where these correspondents will initially fan out are spread across Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Tripura, Karnataka, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala, Haryana, Daman and Diu, Sikkim, Puducherry and Goa. "Within the next two years, we want to cover the whole country," Ramesh said.
National Advisory Council member N.C. Saxena, however, appeared sceptical. "Aadhar coverage is not yet 100 per cent in all (these) districts. What mechanism would be followed for those beneficiaries yet to get Aadhar numbers? Delivery of payments also depends on banks which have to agree to recruit more than a lakh correspondents," he said.
According to UIDAI sources, some 70 per cent residents in these districts had been provided with Aadhar numbers.