Will court ruling on Aadhaar impact Karanata DBT schemes?

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BANGALORE, September 25:  The Supreme Court decree that ruled out making an Aadhaar number mandatory for delivery of government services, puts a spoke in the wheel of several ambitious plans announced by several departments of the State government to link crucial services to Aadhaar.

These plans range from Direct Benefit Transfer scheme for kerosene and LPG subsidies to using the number to weed out leakages in the Public Distribution System, particularly the Anna Bhagya scheme. Already, an Aadhaar-linked account is mandatory for beneficiaries of several existing welfare schemes in three pilot districts — Dharwad, Tumkur and Mysore, where direct cash transfers are being made since January 1.

Schemes where Aadhaar is mandatory include the Janani Suraksha Yojana, Indira Gandhi Matritiva Sahyog Yojana and post-matriculation scholarships for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes students. Now, 28 schemes involving direct cash transfer are being implemented in select districts in the State.

A State government official told The Hindu that they are yet to receive word from the Union government on these plans and whether there will be changes in any proposed plans. “We are not clear if the Supreme Court verdict refers to services or cash transfer. It is likely they are talking about registrations or other processes. We will wait for word from the Union government,” the official said.

He said that the order had created some confusion among district administrations in the matter. “We do not know whether this will impact existing cash transfer schemes, where Aadhaar has been mandatory,” he added.

The ruling comes quick on the heels of the announcement of the December 1 deadline by public sector oil companies for six districts in Karnataka, which makes Aadhaar-linked bank accounts a pre-requisite to get LPG subsidy. In Tumkur, LPG subsidy is transferred directly to customers’ Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, and the deadline for Mysore to adopt the system expires at the end of September.

An IOC official said that the process of linking customers’ bank accounts to their database was still on. “We have not received any word from the Union government on this. We have no fresh instructions so we are going on with work,” he added.

The State government had also planned to bring kerosene subsidies under DBT.

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