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Direct benefit transfer for LPG suffers delays

The Direct cash transfer scheme on LPG & kerosene is expected to save the govt `15,000 crore in subsidies

In a setback to the government’s Direct Benefits Transfer programme, its scheduled launch for the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or cooking gas) subsidy on May 15 has been postponed. This is because only 13% of Aadhaar (the Unique Identification registration) numbers among the beneficiaries chosen for the launch areas have bank accounts in the 20 selected districts.

This is the second postponing of the Direct Benefits Transfer launch in LPG. It was initially to be introduced from January 1, but the oil marketing companies (OMCs) said they couldn’t proceed so early.

The National Payments Corporation of India and State Bank of India are in charge of disbursement of money to customers’ accounts. Though the petroleum ministry had earlier given a choice of using the National Population Register numbers, in addition to Aadhaar, for transfer of the LPG subsidy, the low seeding level is a major hindrance.

Direct cash transfer on LPG and kerosene is expected to save `15,000 crore on the subsidy. Moily had earlier said the direct cash transfer on LPG would cover the entire country by October. The OMCs have a database of 140 million customers. To raise the seeding, the ministry is preparing to launch a massive print and audio-visual campaign on the issue.

A senior member in the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said, “We are always being blamed on the seeding. But the major issue is related to banks. None of these banks are cooperating. Moreover, the process of finding beneficiaries and to get them enrolled is itself a major headache for us. If it is not getting rolled out, the blame should not be on UIDAI, as it is a common effort of various government branches.” The 20 districts involved in the first phase covered Andhra Pradesh, Daman and Diu, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Pondicherry, Sikkim and Tripura.

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