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Feb 08, 2013 at 09:19am IST

Implementation of direct cash transfer scheme slow in West Bengal

Kolkata: The direct cash transfer scheme is being implemented at a very slow pace in West Bengal. It is a huge cause of concern. Many of those who queue up outside biometry camps in Hooghly don't understand why they need another card to formalise their citizenship nor what the buzz about direct cash transfers on Aadhaar card is all about.

In over a year and a half in Bengal about 20 million people have been scanned for biometric data as against a targeted population of over 80 million. That is only about 25 per cent of the target achieved. The state plans to wrap up the task by the end of this year. But the challenge is stiff.

Dipak Ghosh , Director of Census Operations, West Bengal, said, "There is enough scope for improvement. Because two things should synchronise - the availability of operators who will be handling the biometric operations in the camps and another is arrangements from the end of state government functionaries for venues, law and order arrangements and other logistical arrangements. We need more synchronisation to speed up the entire process."

Despite encouraging response from citizens, the implementers of this ambitious project at the ground level have very little idea about the goods that this exercise would ultimately deliver. As to how long it would take to complete the whole process, the knowledge needless to say is far less.

The latest census data suggests that among the 20 million surveyed households in Bengal, less than 10 million avail of banking services. The mammoth task of bridging that gap which is a prerequisite for direct cash transfer has only recently been thrust upon the State Level Bankers' Committee.

Dipak Narang, Convenor, State Level Bankers' Committee, said, "Lists are still to be given to us of EBT beneficiaries as per National Population Register. But I told my GM not to wait for that, go about appointing CSPs, go about opening accounts because banking is our business, we need to do banking."

The committee says it would innovate and modify its strategies in the face of the upcoming hurdles and hopes to finish the task in Bengal only by the end of this year.

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