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Nov 28, 2012 at 08:28am IST

Has the govt jumped the gun in calling direct cash transfer a game changer?

Kotkasim: The government has labelled direct cash transfer of subsidies a game changer. To do a ground check, CNN-IBN travelled to Alwar and found that cash transfer of the subsidy in kerosene has not been a roaring success. Beneficiaries complain they have received money only till May.

Mori Devi is back to cooking with firewood because she can no longer afford kerosene. Till December 2011, her family used to get subsidised kerosene at Rs 15 per litre. But ever since the pilot project for the government's ambitious cash transfer scheme was implemented in Kotkasim, they've had to pay the market price of Rs 50. They were told that the difference of Rs 35 would be transferred to them. But nine months on, no money has come.

ALSO SEE Rs 3.2 lakh crore cash transfer is an old promise and a game changer: UPA

"I'm too old now to go get firewood. But I have no option either ways otherwise we would just go hungry. People who can afford to switch to LPG have done that but the poor don't have that choice either," Mori Devi said.

The district administration claims that the government has saved Rs 2 crore in nine months and kerosene consumption has reduced to 10 per cent due to check on black marketing, but the ground reality is altogether different. Only 13,500 of the target 25,000 bank accounts for poor families have been opened. Non-proximity of banks, poor education and paperwork involved are deterring beneficiaries.

ALSO SEE What's UPA's game changer cash transfer scheme?

Kotkasim resident Shanti said, "We tried thrice to get the account opened. I sent my husband who skipped his daily wages work but still they didn't open it." Even those like Om Prakash, who did open accounts, are yet to get any money.

From 70 ration card holders to 25 now, kerosene sale at ration shops has dropped drastically. Dealers have to send lists of people who purchase kerosene so that money can be transferred to their accounts. Some feel that relying on dealers to make the list defeats the purpose of the scheme, which is to cut out the middleman.

On the other hand, the women fear the rise of another problem. Another resident Vimla says, "What stops the men from withdrawing the money and spending it on drinking instead of buying kerosene or foodgrain?" The reality of the cash transfer scheme in Kotkasim is in sharp contrast with its purpose.

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