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Why in news?

A survey of rural households in Six States cautioned that difficulty in accessing bank accounts meant that the impact of the benefits extended by the Central Government is more limited for the rural poor.

The Benefits that Arrived

  • Finance Ministry data showed that ₹34,800 crore has been transferred so far, from the COVID-19 relief package, including extra grain allocations and cash transfers for the poor.
  • Beneficiaries include 20 crore poor women who received the first instalment of ₹500 in their Jan Dhan bank accounts, indicating more than 98% coverage of the target group.
  • Almost 3 crore pensioners, 8.2 crore farmers, 2.2 crore construction workers and 45 lakh salaried workers also received benefits.

Benefits that could NOT Arrive

  • A survey of 130 rural families in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh showed that only a third of the households had been able to go to the bank last month, although bank branches were supposed to remain open during the lockdown.
  • They also mentioned repeated visits, long queues and Aadhaar-related problems.
  • One in five returned without any money; reasons included that the bank was shut or they were put off by the large crowds, or that their passbooks were blocked or their accounts showed zero balance.
  • The survey showed that the foodgrain portion of the relief scheme may have had better reach among intended beneficiaries, with 96% of surveyed households having received their ration for April.
Many Left Out from getting Benefits under COVID 19 Relief
  • Only 23% of surveyed households said they had received ₹500 in their Jan Dhan bank accounts or received an SMS notification about it.
  • About a third of households did not get any money, but more than 40% said they simply did not know if the money had been received.

What does this mean?

  • In practice, this means that many of the intended beneficiaries of the Centre’s cash transfers in these areas have not been able to access the relief at a time when it was desperately needed.
  • The problem with the government’s decision to give female Jan Dhan account holders ₹500 is that many poor women have non-JDY accounts.
  • Further, those who have JDY accounts are also not able to access the cash, because they can’t go to a bank.
March 2024