The Telegraph
Wednesday , May 21 , 2014
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Aadhaar boost to special banking

Niranjan Kumar, a physically challenged student of Ranchi College, has a joint bank account with his elder brother and rues that the latter cheats him of his Rs 400 honorarium that he receives under a special scheme.

“My brother withdraws every penny of my paltry savings. I have barely anything left at the end of a month to buy reference books. How am I supposed to pursue my studies?” asked the 24-year-old.

The social welfare department has the answer. To save people like Niranjan from unscrupulous family members and friends, the department has started opening Aadhaar-enabled bank accounts (AEBA) for the disabled. Ranchi district has some 13,000 people with special needs certified by the chief medical officer. Hence, the time-taking process, which began on April 1, is likely to be completed in a month, i,e. May 31.

Under the Swami Vivekananda Nisshakt Swabalamban Protsahan Yojana, people with 40 per cent or more physical disabilities receive an honorary sum of Rs 400 every month. In the current banking set-up, the benefit is transferred to their savings account that often have joint holders in the form of conniving siblings, cousins or other relatives. Once the Aadhaar-enabled accounts are opened, the special holder alone will have entitlement and access to his or her money.

“An Aadhaar-enabled bank account or AEBA is one that is linked to the unique identity number of a resident and allows transactions on the basis of this number. We are opening AEBAs for people who are challenged in various ways. This way, their money will stay protected. We have received more than 1,000 complaints of disabled stipend falling into wrong hands. It is time to put an end to this menace,” said Ranchi district social welfare officer Lal Singh Kureil.

He added that the privilege was not restricted to Ranchi alone. “The department has assigned welfare officers of all other districts with a similar task. It is upto respective district administrations to implement the change as soon as they can to stop exploitation of physically challenged people by their greedy relatives.”

Kureil underscores that the new system would not just enhance transparency in transactions, but also get rid of other banking problems the disabled encounter.

“I have a savings account with Bank of India’s Namkum Bazaar branch. For some reason, there have been problems with my electronic benefit transfer for the past three months. While the district social welfare officer has assured me that the money was transferred into my account two months ago, the same is not reflecting in my balance. I have been further assured that such glitches would be gone once my account is upgraded into an Aadhaar-enabled one,” said Rajan Rai, who is also physically disabled and lives in Namkum.

The timing of the Aadhaar account drive could not have been more apt because all the 13,000 special people of Ranchi are set to receive their three-month honorarium at one go in June. The state government is in the process of allocating Rs 6.2 crore in the 2014-15 fiscal for social welfare.

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