As the government races to launch its flagship direct cash transfer programme from January 1, the low concentration of Aadhaar card database in the identified 43 districts is a cause of major concern.
The programme, under which cash subsidy will be transferred electronically in bank accounts directly, is to be linked to Aadhaar card of a beneficiary.
The government has identified 43 districts across 16 states for the rollout of the programme on January one but sources said the Aadhaar card concentration is very low, particularly in rural areas of these districts.
The sources say that while most districts in the first phase do not have verified digitised aadhar-card database, some, which have this, are not linked to the bank accounts of beneficiaries.
With an aim to ensure smooth rollout of the programme, 43 senior officials of the government have been sent to the identified districts to assess preparedness for launch of the first phase on January 1.
The Centre has already made it clear that the roll out of direct cash transfer scheme in the identified 43 districts in the first phase from January 1 should be done only after ensuring that intended beneficiaries have Aadhaar number linked with their bank accounts, which will be mandatory for transfer of benefits.
The sources add that verified database of beneficiaries as per norms is only about 25 per cent as of now and various state governments are racing to complete their database.
The scheme can at present be implemented in few of the total 43 districts on January 1, claim the sources, going by the verified database of beneficiaries. They said the programme can be implemented in the remaining districts in the next few months.
Under the programme, 34 central schemes would be covered in the first phase.
The Planning Commission has in a recent circular to 16 states and Union territories, where the scheme is to be implemented in the first phase, made it clear that they have "to ensure that all the intended beneficiaries have or get an Aadhaar number before commencement" of the programme.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also held a meeting recently to discuss ways to finetune coordination between Aadhar and banking systems with the beneficiaries.
It was decided that focus should be on 43 districts as eight of the remaining 51 identified districts were not ready because of Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.
The sources said 35 districts would be covered on January 1 and rest of 43 districts would be covered by January 10.
During the meeting, ministers were told that there should be no phased roll out within any district and the entire district should switch to direct cash transfer at one-go.
Working on the roll out on war footing, the government is according priority to digitisation of beneficiary databases with names, addresses and Aadhar numbers. All ministries are to ensure this immediately, the sources said.
The government has said that over 95 per cent beneficiaries should have bank accounts, with all banks being Aadhar-compliant, before implementing the programme.
Sources say in some districts the Aadhar card penetration is 80 per cent in urban areas, but a poor 5 per cent in rural areas.