Three states where the UPA govt has rolled out direct cash transfers go to polls later this year. On the ground, the scheme has not quite turned out the game-changer the government reckoned it would.
Rajasthan: The scheme that blocked kerosene
A frail Gori Sahaab, 90, instructs his son to pour mustard oil into a tiny diya in his one-room house. He once used a kerosene lamp but has stopped buying that fuel. His son says he is a “victim” of the direct cash/benefits transfer scheme. Direct Benefit Transfer: Lack of clarity on funds flow
Gori is one of many villagers in Kotkasim in Rajasthan’s Alwar district who have not received their due under the cash subsidy scheme for kerosense. Cash transfer: Some cash in, some uncertainty
The pilot for cash transfer was launched in Kotkasim in December 2011. The Centre went on to launch the DBT scheme in 43 districts across the country this January 1, and expanded the rollout to 121 districts by July 1.
In Rajasthan, the scheme was launched in three districts in the first phase — Alwar, Ajmer and Udaipur. DBT is mostly being used for scholarships and maternity benefits but the government recently launched cash transfers for kerosene in some pilot blocks in the latter two districts, despite having been unable to remove glitches in Alwar.
The government feels the “visibility” of DBT is maximum where cash subsidy is involved, as the minutes of a recent high-level meeting at the national level on DBT mention. However, far from being an electoral game-changer as promoted by the Congress with its slogan “Aapka Paisa Aapke Haath”, the scheme has made people more angry with the Centre than ever for disrupting the existing system.
In Kotkasim, villagers have replaced kerosene with other fuel substitutes. While earlier consumers could buy up to 3 litres per ration card from fair-price shops at