New Delhi, Aug. 23: Aadhaar cards are not mandatory for accessing subsidies, minister of state for parliamentary affairs minister Rajeev Shukla said today.
A CPI MP from Kerala, M.P. Achuthan, had objected to oil companies tying cooking gas subsidy to Aadhaar-linked bank accounts and asked the government who had authorised the companies to make it compulsory.
“It is an important issue. Aadhaar card is not mandatory for availing subsidies. If any public sector undertaking is doing it, we will correct it,” Shukla told the Rajya Sabha after Achuthan raised the issue during zero hour.
The clarification in Parliament could force the government to alter a cabinet note on direct benefit transfer of LPG (DBTL) to be taken up next week, sources said. The Planning Commission had yesterday chalked out DBTL for districts in Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, sources said.
The cooking gas subsidy scheme is Aadhaar-dependent and the government had decided to send enrolment numbers of Aadhaar applicants to the oil companies so that they could directly get the numbers from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) once these are generated, sources said.
After Shukla’s statement, officials are worried if the scheme can continue in the same format. Under the scheme now being rolled out, while customers pay the full price for a cooking gas cylinder, the subsidy amount is deposited into their Aadhaar-linked account by the oil companies.
On Monday, UIDAI chairperson Nandan Nilekani was quoted as saying that while Aadhaar was not mandatory, “if a certain authority feels that the beneficiaries of a particular scheme need to possess Aadhaar cards, they can make it mandatory for them for that particular scheme”.
But Achuthan said today: “It (the Aadhaar scheme) has not even been legislated yet so how can it be mandatory?”
The unique number was defined in Rule 13 of the Citizenship Rules of 2003. Named Aadhaar in 2011, the concept is expected to serve as a tool for seamless implementation of government schemes for the poor. It has been successfully used in the government’s flagship schemes.
While campaigning against tying subsidies to Aadhaar, Achuthan also raised the question of delay in getting the unique identification cards. The CPI MP complained in Parliament during special mentions that he and his wife had applied for Aadhaar cards in September last year but were yet to get them.