The Centre has asked oil marketing companies (OMCs) not to transfer LPG subsidy to the bank accounts of eligible households unless their accounts are seeded with the unique identification number, Aadhaar. The move, which shows the government’s policy intent to make Aadhaar mandatory for receipt of assorted sops, comes almost a year after the Supreme Court’s interim order, allowing the use of Aadhaar for public distribution system (PDS) and LPG subsidy deliveries.
“From 1.7.2016, subsidy will only be transferred to the eligible customer having Aadhaar seeding (sic); subsidy for the (bank transfer compliant) customers who have not seeded Aadhaar will be kept on hold till 30.9.2016 after which the parked subsidy will lapse and the customer would not be eligible for subsidy of the refills consumed after 1.10.2016 till he submits Aadhaar to his/her LPG distributor,” said a note sent by the petroleum ministry to OMCs on June 30.
The direction is valid for the entire country except Assam and Meghalaya. While the SC had ruled against making Aadhaar mandatory for receipt of benefits from the government, it allowed the use of the UID on a voluntary basis for specified schemes. After LPG and PDS schemes, it had in October last year, extended the facility to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana.
According to the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, passed by Parliament during the Budget session in the wake of the Supreme Court’s interim order against making Aadhaar mandatory, the Centre or state “may” require individuals getting government benefits to undergo authentication or furnish Aadhaar number. However, the petroleum ministry’s latest move takes the policy even further by making Aadhaar-seeded bank accounts compulsory for the LPG subsidy.
The petroleum ministry order adds that if the customer submits Aadhaar after July 1 and before September 30, his or her subsidies, if any, will be linked to his bank account and the consumer will start receiving them thereafter.Currently, there are more than 17 crore domestic cooking gas consumers. Of this, 15.8 crore have been added to PAHAL (direct benefit transfer for LPG subsidy) scheme. Nearly, two crore cooking gas consumers have not seeded their Aadhaar number with the bank accounts.
The subsidy on a 14.2-kg domestic refill dropped to R63.91 starting August 1 against R116.34 in the previous month.
The Union Budget has provided R26,947 crore for fuel subsidy in the current fiscal, which consists of
R19, 803 crore for LPG and R7,144 crore for kerosene.