While Home Minister Rajnath Singh was reported to be keen on merging the previous UPA government’s two flagship schemes — the National Population Register (NPR) and Aadhaar — Prime Minister Narendra Modi is learnt to have indicated his interest in running both the schemes side by side.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to corroborate data on various beneficiaries — pensioners, scholarship holders, those who get subsidised LPG cylinders, passport holders — with the National Population Register (NPR) in about 300 districts across 22 states.
While the PMO has not spelt out the objective, it is believed that the exercise is being done to identify and weed out ghost beneficiaries — the biggest drawback of the Direct Benefits Scheme (DBT) launched by the UPA.
Earlier this month, the PMO had asked the Planning Commission to collect similar information on Aadhaar and DBT with regard to five key schemes — MGNREGS, pensions, scholarships, Public Distribution System and subsidised LPG — and submit a report by August 15.
“We have also been given an August 15 deadline. We have been asked to match the data of beneficiaries with the NPR. It is a huge task as we have a set format. So if a beneficiary’s name is misspelt in his scholarship form, it would not match with our data. This does not necessarily mean that the person is a ghost beneficiary. It will then require field visits to ascertain the identities,” said a senior official.
Home Secretary Anil Goswami has asked all the concerned departments, including HRD, Finance, Department of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension, Rural Development, External Affairs, to furnish the relevant details.
Sources said the government agreed to give a push to Aadhaar, the previous government’s flagship scheme, after its former chairman, Nandan Nilekani, gave a presentation to the PMO. Subsequently, at a meeting on July 5, Modi made it clear that both the projects would stay. “The Home Ministry had already convened a meeting with the Planning Commission to discuss ways to integrate the two projects.
But Nilekani gave a presentation to Modi, after an appointment was arranged by a senior Cabinet minister. Following this meeting, the plan to integrate the projects has been put on the backburner, said a senior official.