In a decisive push to the UPA government’s Aadhaar project and Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, his office has directed the Planning Commission to collect data on these schemes in 300 priority districts and submit a status report by August 15.
According to government sources, the directive was issued after a high-level meeting chaired by Modi on July 5, where he made clear his intention to retain and push the schemes. The 300 priority districts are those where Aadhaar enrolment is currently over 60-70 per cent.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the plan panel to gather information on Aadhaar and DBT with respect to five key government schemes — MGNREGA, pensions, scholarships, Public Distribution System and LPG.
The PMO has asked for data on the number of beneficiaries in these districts, those enrolled under Aadhaar, those whose accounts are seeded with it, and those who have been left out of the process. Officials said the status report will also talk about the future course of action and what needs to be done to maximise enrolment.
Indicating its seriousness on the issue, the PMO’s directive clearly mentions that all data collection and information gathering should be over by July 31, with the final status report being submitted by August 15. Officials said the fact that the directive has come directly from the PMO, instead of being issued through the Finance Ministry which looks after the scheme, indicates Modi’s interest in fast-tracking the scheme.
Meanwhile, the Planning Commission has constituted a “crack team” comprising state planning advisers who will visit the concerned states to collect the data and other relevant information. The plan panel has been reviewing this exercise on a weekly basis now.
The DBT scheme, touted by the UPA as a gam-changer, was earlier criticised for gaps in its implementation and poor monitoring. At the July 5 meeting, Modi expressed keen interest in the scheme and also told the UIDAI that the 100-crore enrolment target under Aadhaar should be met at the “earliest”. The current enrolment stands at 70 crore, with 65 crore Aadhaar cards having been issued so far.