Pradhan opposes Odisha govt’s move to pay pensions in cash to beneficiaries instead of DBT

Dharmendra Pradhan

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday urged Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to reconsider the state governments recent decision to pay pensions in cash to senior citizens, widows and disabled people.

Alleging that there were many instances of beneficiaries being exploited in the past due to manipulation by middlemen in case of cash payments, Pradhan said the state governments decision will “encourage corruption and malpractice”.

The ruling BJD, however, dismissed Pradhans apprehension, asserting that he was “unaware of ground realities”. In a letter to the chief minister, Pradhan said, “Keeping in view our commitment to maintaining transparency and rooting out corruption, I urge you to continue the DBT (direct benefit transfer) mechanism for payment of pension to old age, widows and divyangians in Odisha and review the decision of cash payment.” The senior BJP leaders observation came after the Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities department directed all district collectors and commissioners of municipal corporations that beneficiaries of the Madhu Babu Pension Yojana (MBPY) will receive pensions in cash from June onwards.

BJD national spokesperson Sasmit Patra said, It seems that Pradhan is unaware of the ground realities and problems faced by the beneficiaries due to the lack of banking facilities. They have to travel 20-30 km and spend Rs 200 to 300 to withdraw pensions amounting to Rs 500 from banks.” “Cash payments will reduce their burden of travelling long distances,” Patra said.

The state government took the decision after the BJD dispensation was criticised for “failing” to ensure pension payment through direct benefit transfer (DBT).

Benefits under various schemes of the central government reach every citizen without any intermediary, Pradhan claimed.

Around 2.99 crore beneficiaries in the country, including 20,95,695 from Odisha under the National Social Assistance Programme of the Centre are getting benefits through DBT without any problem, he said. Pradhan, the education minister, also claimed that due to the DBT system, fake and bogus beneficiaries have been eliminated.

Due to the elimination of duplicate beneficiaries by the adoption of DBT, the Odisha government has made an estimated savings of Rs 459.96 crore in the 2021-22 fiscal and the central government has also saved approximately Rs 2.73 lakh crore cumulatively till the end of FY22, he added.

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