Poor in Bihar hit as Aadhar-based direct benefit transfer lags woefully

By: | Published: September 3, 2016 6:13 AM

Poor can’t get their dues without quick progress here

The state has linked just 0.13% of its 1.54 crore ration cards to Aadhaar as compared to 100% in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Telangana. (PTI)The state has linked just 0.13% of its 1.54 crore ration cards to Aadhaar as compared to 100% in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Telangana. (PTI)

If Bihar’s low per capita incomes and large number of poor not bad enough, the state’s extremely poor record in implementing the Centre’s Aadhaar-based direct benefit transfer (DBT) ensures that the huge leakages in central and state subsidies continue unchecked and the poor do not get their fair share of this expenditure. The state has linked just 0.13% of its 1.54 crore ration cards to Aadhaar as compared to 100% in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Telangana. Even non-BJP states like Bengal have linked 57% ration cards in the state to Aadhaar, while the figure is 49% in Uttar Pradesh. Indeed, Bihar is lagging in even getting its population to get Aadhaar numbers—the figure is a low 70% for the state. Nor is this failure limited to just Aadhaar adoption. A mere 0.7% of Bihar’s villages have turned open-defecation-free under Swachh Bharat as compared to 100% in Sikkim and 53.52% in Himachal Pradesh. In terms of toilet coverage, too, Bihar is at the bottom among the states with 25% households, while Sikkim is at the top with 100%, followed by Himachal Pradesh (97%) and Kerala (96%).

Part of the reason for the poor performance, undoubtedly, is related to the poor administrative machinery in the state, but when chief minister Nitish Kumar has been able to make admirable strides in other areas, there is no reason why he should not put his might behind these central schemes which also have generous funding. While there are political differences between the BJP and the JDU, the chief minister would realise that when leakages in social sector schemes reduce, he will probably get more credit for it than prime minister Modi. And if a Modi can give up his opposition to Aadhaar—a scheme started by the UPA and opposed by the BJP—because he saw its benefits after assuming office in New Delhi, surely the astute Kumar can do the same? Though the central government cannot penalise Bihar for its poor performance, perhaps a scheme to incentivise states doing well under these schemes can be tried?

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