Madhya Pradesh: Hoshangabad, Harda, Khandwa - The UPA government will struggle to take credit for the DBT scheme in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, where schemes that seek to provide similar benefits are already in place. Simultaneously, should things go wrong, the UPA would be spared the flak because DBT is indistinguishable on the ground from the state’s measures — electronic transfer of funds or enhancing the scope of financial inclusion, both of which necessitate opening of bank accounts.
The Madhya Pradesh Model of Financial Inclusion and Direct Benefit Transfer weaves in benefits of several state and central schemes. It has named the project Samagra Samajik Suraksha Mission.
The government has been depositing money in the accounts of farmers after purchasing wheat, starting before DBT was introduced, besides making electronic transfers of MNREGA payments. In the last few months, 1,700 ultra small banks (also called community service centres) have been opened and 1,300 more are being added.
Unlike DBT, which is being implemented in Hoshangabad, Harda and Khandwa districts, the state’s initiatives are relatively hassle-free because they are not linked to the Aadhar card yet. Using biometric authentication, the beneficiary is provided benefits at the nearest USB. The RBI norm of one USB for a population of 2,000 did not suit a large state like MP, so the government changed the criterion to one USB every 5 km.
The USB works to the bank’s advantage also because it does not have to spend on infrastructure. While distributing benefits of government schemes, it can also convert the no-frills accounts to regular savings accounts.
Against this background, the idea of opening accounts for benefits such as LPG or kerosene under DBT has not really enthused potential beneficiaries, who fail to understand how they stand to benefit. They don’t know — or care — which government is behind the idea.
“Daily wage earners like me will have to pool money to buy kerosene at the market rate and then wait for the subsidy to reach the bank. I don’t see any benefit in it. What does my family eat till then?” says Janardan Shravankar, who tarvels daily from Hoshangabad to work at a highway dhaba.
Shakti Singh Chouhan, sarpanch of Jasalpur, has an LPG cylinder in mind. “Hamara paisa hamko vapas de rahe ho,” he says questioning the DBT. He claims, “There’s a rumour that the government will deduct tax before depositing the subsidy amount.”
When a sarpanch is influenced