Rashmi Ranjan

Days after the Odisha government decided that all the beneficiaries in the State will receive pension in cash from June-2023 onwards, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has urged CM Naveen Patnaik to review the decision again.

In a letter to CM Naveen, Pradhan urged him to continue with the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mechanism for payment of pension to the elderly, widows and divyangs.

“I write to you today, expressing my worry, and more importantly, the distress of the citizens of Odisha, regarding the recent decision of the Odisha Government to shift the social security pension for old age and divyangjans to cash, rather than maintaining the existing Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) strategy. This decision, unfortunately, appears to be a step backward in our collective pursuit of corruption-free governance and efficient public service delivery,” the letter read. 

“Under the visionary leadership of our Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, we have strived to ensure that the fruits of government schemes reach every individual, without any pilferage. The Jan Dhan Yojana is a sterling example of this approach. Across India, a whopping 48.99 Crore bank accounts have been opened under this scheme, amassing savings of Rs 1.97 lakh crore. In Odisha itself, 2.01 crore bank accounts have been activated, saving Rs 8,751 crore for the people of our state.”    

“Under the NSAP of Government of India, approx. 2.99 Crore beneficiaries especially old, widow and divyangjans are being paid monthly pension directly in their bank accounts. Similarly in Odisha also, 20,95,695 beneficiaries are being provided with benefits through the DBT mechanism. You must appreciate the fact that these significant number of beneficiaries are being disbursed directly to their bank accounts, eliminating any possibility of corruption,” the letter stated.

“Adoption of DBT has resulted in massive savings to the exchequer, by removal of fake / ghost beneficiaries and reducing need for intermediaries/ middlemen. This has immensely helped in plugging leakage and diversions and has eliminated scope of corruption. It promotes transparency by cutting down discretionary decision making and opacity in processes,” the letter read further.

“Odisha has swiftly adopted DBT both in central and state schemes. Odisha's total DBT in FY 2022-23 was a whooping Rs 8135.18 cror0065 which includes transfers through Centrally Sponsored Schemes and State Schemes and almost 1.95 Cr beneficiaries have been covered in FY 2022-23,” Pradhan wrote.

“Due to elimination of ghost/duplicated beneficiaries by adoption of DBT, Government of Odisha has made an estimated saving of Rs 459.96 Cr in FY 21-22. Needless to mention, the Government of India has saved approx Rs 2.73 lakh crore cumulative till close of FY 2021-22 due to adoption of DBT,” the Union Minister highlighted in his letter.

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