Bihar, Jharkhand transfer via apps Rs 1,000 each to 21 lakh migrant workers

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Published: May 26, 2020 1:40 AM

Faced with the challenge of providing relief to migrant labourers stuck in other states during April — before transportation became available on May 1 — Bihar has developed a mobile application (app) which could perform basic checks through Aadhaar authentication to identify genuine beneficiaries.

Jharkhand followed suit with a similar app, and both the states between them transferred Rs 1,000 each to nearly 21 lakh recipients.Jharkhand followed suit with a similar app, and both the states between them transferred Rs 1,000 each to nearly 21 lakh recipients.

Faced with the challenge of providing relief to migrant labourers stuck in other states during April — before transportation became available on May 1 — Bihar has developed a mobile application (app) which could perform basic checks through Aadhaar authentication to identify genuine beneficiaries. Jharkhand followed suit with a similar app, and both the states between them transferred Rs 1,000 each to nearly 21 lakh recipients.

A Jharkhand state official said the aim was to address migrant labour population unable to travel back to the state before the lockdown came into force. “We started with the idea of providing at least a one-time cash support to these people which would sustain them during lockdown.”

The states identified few qualifying criteria to narrow the target for direct benefit transfer (DBT). This included the condition that the person downloading the application had to be located outside the state, which was ensured at the time of registration through geolocation to identify the location of the device. Second, such a person had to have the relevant bank account in their home state.

“We decided that to qualify for the support, a person must have the Aadhar-linked bank account in the home state, because it provides a strong indication that the person is engaged in labour outside the state for a considerable period of time, but eventually comes back to the state every year for a few months,” Sushil Modi, deputy chief minister of Bihar, explained.

He added that it was felt that a person with bank account outside the state may have settled there and earned his entire livelihood in the host state. They are likely to be not as vulnerable as migrant labour population, so it was decided to exclude them from DBT, Modi said.

Finally, registrants had to click their photos and upload the same on the app. This was matched against the details available on the Aadhaar database. Once successfully registered, the monetary sum was transferred to Aadhaar-linked accounts of the individuals.

Bihar earmarked about Rs 250 crore for the purpose from the CM relief fund, and made the cash transfer to 19 lakh accounts till last count. Jharkhand identified about 2 lakh persons eligible for the benefit and spent about Rs 20 crore from the labour development fund.

Both the states stopped taking fresh registrations after lockdown was eased on May 4. As the migrant labour started arriving in Bihar and Jharkhand thereafter, the respective governments began providing for travel cost as well as upfront cash payment to mitigate the suffering, officials said.

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