In a move that will considerably swell the number of Jan Dhan accounts, the government has decided to convert existing accounts under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme into the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). A directive has already been sent to ministries and departments to convert accounts of MNREGA and other social welfare scheme beneficiaries into PMJDY.
Documents accessed by The Indian Express show that the final decision in this regard was taken on December 30, 2015, asking ministries and departments to “initiate action for conversion of normal bank accounts of beneficiaries used for DBT under welfare schemes into bank account under PMJDY”.
Launched in August 2014, 20.19 crore PMJDY accounts have been opened in country until January 13 this year. As on March 31, 2015, the total number of beneficiaries under DBT schemes was 22.74 crore, including MNREGA, PAHAL (LPG subsidy), National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) and other schemes.
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The decision to convert bank accounts of beneficiaries of various welfare schemes into PMJDY accounts may double the number of such accounts.
A senior government official said: “DBT started in January 2013, while PMJDY was launched in 2014, so both have functioned separately so far. We are attempting to bring both accounts on the same platform. The government is moving towards bringing Aadhaar-seeded accounts under the ambit of the PMJDY. Banks have been requested to immediately facilitate linking the accounts with PMJDY accounts.”
The government’s office memorandum dated December 30 had pointed out that under DBT in social welfare schemes, benefits are transferred to bank accounts of beneficiaries, which may not be PMJDY accounts. “There is a general consensus that for maintaining uniformity, benefits available to bank account holders under PMJDY should also be given to beneficiaries of welfare schemes having normal bank account,” it said.
A PMJDY account offers additional facilities of Rs 1 lakh accident insurance cover and an overdraft facility of Rs 5,000 and these facilities will automatically be given to all DBT account holders once their accounts are converted into PMJDY.
The government’s note referred to a decision taken by the Committee of Secretaries on December 9, 2015, whereby the Department of Financial Services had agreed to prescribe a standard format in which the applications for conversion of DBT bank accounts to PMJDY accounts can be made to the banks.