Home / Politics / Policy /  Cash transfer may be undermined by Aadhaar delays

New Delhi: The government’s plan to roll out a cash-transfer programme to replace subsidies, which it regards as one of its most important initiatives, may be undermined by delays in enrolling people in the unique ID or Aadhaar scheme.

The finance ministry said on Monday in its Mid-Year Economic Analysis that, as of 30 September, “Aadhaar enrolments have covered 75% or more of the resident population in 22 out of the 51 districts, while in 13 other districts the enrolments have covered a population in excess of 50%."

The pilot project was to originally cover 51 districts starting 1 January, but was cut to 43 after the Election Commission said they couldn’t include those in poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, until the electoral process was completed there. Results will be announced in both states on 20 December.

The Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), fighting allegations of corruption and trying to build up support ahead of the general election in 2014, has dubbed the scheme a “game changer". The cash-transfer scheme is based upon the Aadhaar numbers.

Mint reported on 12 December that petroleum secretary G.C. Chaturvedi said the government would be unable to meet the 1 January deadline for liquified petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders in around two-thirds of the targeted 51 districts.

While the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is mandated to issue 600 million Aadhaar numbers by 2014, so far 200 million, or about 16% of the population, have got them.

Out of the target of 51 districts, 15 had exceeded 80% enrolment and another 17 are close to the mark, said a government official familiar with UIDAI’s enrolment plans. The government wants to roll out the plan across 18 states by April.

“Let’s not fool ourselves into believing that the entire 60 crore population in the 18 states will be covered by April," said the official cited above. “Aadhaar penetration in around 10 districts is very low because of the poor enrolment effort. The solution may be targeted enrolment of people who are beneficiaries in some government welfare scheme in these 51 districts as well as in the 18 states where the scheme is set to begin in April."

The finance ministry report said: “Aadhaar seeding in the beneficiary database in these districts is under way and up to the end of September 2012, about 31% of the beneficiary population of the various government schemes in these districts has been seeded with Aadhaar."

The official cited above said the enrolment camps have to be planned to focus on targeted beneficiaries and enrol those who are beneficiaries under some welfare scheme or the other on a priority basis.

In another development, the government said in the Analysis that 30 fuel supply agreements (FSAs) out of 118 had been inked between state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) and power project developers as of 30 September.

NTPC Ltd, India’s largest power generation utility, is yet to sign an FSA for around 10,005 megawatts of coal-fired power generation capacity in the backdrop of differences over terms and conditions related to penalties and import of the fuel.

An FSA guarantees coal supply and is a legally binding document that requires CIL to supply at least an agreed amount of the contracted volume.

Utpal Bhaskar
"Utpal Bhaskar leads Mint's policy and economy coverage. He is part of Mint’s launch team, which he joined as a staff writer in 2006. Widely cited by authors and think-tanks, he has reported extensively on the intersection of India’s policy, polity and corporate space.
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