Pradhan urges Odisha CM to continue DBT in payment of social security pensions
Bhubaneswar, May 24 (IANS) Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday urged Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to continue the DBT mechanism for payment of pension to old age, widow and divyangjans in Odisha.
Opposing Odisha government's decision of cash payment of pension to senior citizens, widows and persons with disabilities, Pradhan wrote a letter to Patnaik on Wednesday.
In his letter, Pradhan said the Odisha Government has decided to shift the social security pension for old age and divyangjans to cash, rather than maintaining the existing Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) strategy.
"This decision, unfortunately, appears to be a step backwards in our collective pursuit of corruption-free governance and efficient public service delivery," he said.
Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we have strived to ensure that the fruits of government schemes reach every individual, without any pilferage, he said.
Across India, a whopping of 48.99 crore bank accounts have been opened under the Jan Dhan Yojana scheme, amassing savings of Rs 71.97 lakh crore. In Odisha, 2.01 crore bank accounts have been activated, saving Rs 78,751 crore for the people of the state, Pradhan said.
Under the NSAP of the government of India, about 2.99 crore beneficiaries, especially old, widow and divyangjans are being paid monthly pension through their bank accounts. Similarly in Odisha also, 20,95,695 beneficiaries are being provided with benefits through the DBT mechanism, he pointed out.
Therefore, he urged the Odisha CM to appreciate the fact that these significant numbers of beneficiaries are being disbursed directly to their bank accounts, eliminating any possibility of corruption.
Pradhan said adoption of DBT has resulted in massive savings to the exchequer, by removal of fake/ghost beneficiaries and reducing need for middlemen.
Besides, this has immensely helped in plugging leakage and diversions and has eliminated scope of corruption. It promotes transparency by cutting down discretionary decision making and opacity in processes, he added.
Due to elimination of ghost/duplicated beneficiaries by adoption of DBT, Odisha government has saved about Rs 459.96 crore in the financial year 2021-22.
He mentioned that the government of India has saved approx. Rs 2.73 lakh crore cumulative till close of FY 2021-22 due to adoption of DBT.
"These figures elucidate how the strategy has been instrumental in alleviating poverty, empowering citizens, and improving service delivery, directly benefiting crores of Indians, especially our brethren in Odisha. Considering such a substantial impact, it is disconcerting to witness the Odisha government's decision to return to cash payments for old age pensions," Pradhan wrote.
He mentioned that there are 82,261 active banking correspondents available with different banking institutions in Odisha. Apart from it, there is a wide network of 8491 post offices in Odisha which are fully capable and trained to provide financial services in remote and rural areas, India Post has a wide presence and its wide network needs to be leveraged along with DBT.
Further, 6,772 Gram Panchayats in Odisha are covered through more than 22,000 functional Common Service Centres across Odisha, their extensive presence has been used in implementation in various social security, financial services, agriculture, and farmer welfare schemes of Government of India successfully, he stated.
It would be encouraging if existing banking correspondents, wide network of India Post and Common Service Centres are fully utilised in disbursement of old age pensions, social security schemes and other financial services within the DBT framework, the BJP leader suggested.
Pradhan further said that cash payments, historically, have had tendencies to spur corruption, pilferage, and exploitation of beneficiaries by middlemen.
"The recent decision of the government of Odisha to pay out cash, I fear, may revive these grim scenarios, adding burdens to our elderly citizens, already grappling with the hardships of old age," the Union Minister said.
To maintain transparency and rooting out corruption, Pradhan urged the Chief Minister to continue the DBT mechanism for payment of pension to old age, widow and divyangjans in Odisha and review the decision of cash payout.