Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday urged Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to reconsider the state government's recent decision to hand over cash as pension to senior citizens, widows and disabled persons.
Pradhan, who hails from Odisha, alleged that there have many instances of beneficiaries being exploited in the past due to corruption and manipulation by middlemen through cash payments and said the Odisha government's decision to give cash to beneficiaries will "encourage corruption and malpractice" in the state.
"Keeping in view our commitment to maintaining transparency and rooting out corruption, I urge you to continue the DBT mechanism for payment of pension to old age, widows and divyangians in Odisha and review the decision of cash payment," Pradhan, the Union Education minister said in a letter to Patnaik.
The senior BJP leader's opposition to the cash distribution to old age beneficiaries came after the state government's Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD) department asked all district collectors and commissioners of municipal corporations that the beneficiaries of the Madhu Babu Pension Yojana (MBPY) will receive pension in cash from June onwards.
The state government's decision in this regard was taken after being criticized for "failing" to ensure pension payment through direct benefit transfer (DBT) to beneficiaries. The Odisha government has decided to return to the old method of cash disbursement.
Stating that effective schemes of the central government are reaching every citizen without any intermediaries, Pradhan claimed about 2.99 crore beneficiaries in the country including 20,95, 695 beneficiaries of Odisha under NSAP (National Social Assistance Programme) of the Government of India are getting assistance through DBT without any problem.
He also claimed that due to the DBT system, fake and bogus beneficiaries have been eliminated and the need for intermediaries has been eliminated.
Pradhan claimed that due to the elimination of ghost/duplicate beneficiaries by the adoption of DBT, the Odisha government has made an estimated saving of Rs 459,96 crore in the 2021-22 fiscal and the central government has also saved approximately Rs 2.73 lakh crore cumulative till the close of 2021-22 due to adoption of DBT.
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