Banks gear up to transfer benefits directly to households in Bengal

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018

Set target to open one account per household in 6 districts by March 31

Banks in West Bengal are planning to facilitate direct transfer of benefits in six districts of the State on a pilot basis.

According to Sanjay Arya, Executive Director, United Bank of India, and the SLBC (State-Level Bankers’ Committee) convenor of West Bengal, the project will be rolled out in North and South 24 Parganas, Purulia, Bankura, Burdwan and Cooch Behar.

“As a first step towards facilitating direct benefit transfer we are planning to open one account per household in each of these six districts. We expect to complete the task by March 31,” Arya said.

The decision was taken after a meeting of the bank officials with C. Chandramouli (who is heading the National Population Register), the State Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and officials from the Reserve Bank of India on Saturday.

Poor Aadhaar penetration

Under the direct benefit transfer scheme, the Centre will transfer cash benefits such as scholarships, pensions, and MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) wages directly to the bank or post office accounts of identified beneficiaries, based on the unique identification number or Aadhaar card.

The Centre had identified about 51 districts for rolling out the direct benefit transfer by March 1 on a pilot basis. However, none of the 19 districts (including Kolkata) of West Bengal feature on that list.

According to sources, the poor penetration of Aadhaar cards in the State could be a hindrance to the smooth implementation of the scheme.

“Though the Aadhar penetration is not too high in the State, we do not expect it to pose too much of a problem as it can be done through bank account numbers,” Arya said.

United Bank of India would sensitise the various banks in the State about the project and would co-ordinate with the State Government to ensure smooth implementation of the pilot project.

“As the SLBC convenor, the State Government wants to take up this task and we have already started working on this. We are organising a meeting with bankers next week,” he added.

> shobha.roy@thehindu.co.in

Published on January 20, 2013

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