Chief minister Sheila Dikshit today sought finance minister P Chidambaram's help to facilitate direct transfer of cash subsidies and other financial assistance to 30 lakh beneficiaries of various central and Delhi government-sponsored schemes in the city.
Dikshit, addressing a meeting of chief ministers of North Zone states chaired by Chidambaram, strongly pushed for direct transfer of cash entitlements into the bank accounts of poor beneficiaries to curb leakages, diversion and corruption.
The chief minister requested Chidambaram to remove the "obstacles" in opening no-frill bank accounts by beneficiaries so that the city government can implement its plan of providing them cash subsidies and other grants like old-age pension through electronic fund transfer.
Dikshit said poor people have been finding it difficult to open bank accounts as banks have been insisting on documentary proof of the residence despite presentation of Aadhar card.
Dikshit also suggested directing all government banks to put up a notice boards in all their branches stating the procedure and documents required for opening up of no-frill accounts.
"The government has to transfer Rs1,500 crore to the beneficiaries through electronic-fund transfer. We want the banks to put in place a hassle-free process for opening of bank accounts by the poor people," she said.
According to officials, about 3.19 lakh no-frill accounts were opened in Delhi by various banks last year while the number has reached to 19.81 lakh in the current year. Delhi government wants opening of the remaining 10 lakh accounts before end of the current fiscal.
Delhi government had allocatted Rs550 crore for 2012-13 to pay monthly pension to senior citizens while a total of Rs110 crore is being spent on giving financial assistance to women in distress. The government had set aside Rs100 crore for providing assistance to young girls under Laadli scheme.
The chief minister said the Centre has selected two districts -- the North West and East -- for introduction of direct cash transfer from January one, 2013 under various government schemes along with 49 other districts across the country.
Dikshit said her government was moving towards ensuring direct cash transfer to beneficiaries under all welfare schemes and added that 65% of the plan allocation in 2012-13 has been made for social sector schemes.
In August, Delhi government had requested the Centre for providing an option of direct cash transfer to BPL families instead of foodgrains under the Food Security Bill which is being vetted by a parliamentary panel.
The meeting, hosted by the city government, was attended by chief ministers of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand while Punjab and Uttar Pradesh were represented by senior ministers and officials.
In the meeting, Dikshit announced Delhi government will launch a major food security programme on December 15 under which cash subsidy of Rs600 per month would be given to two lakh vulnerable households in the city not covered by either BPL scheme and Antyodaya Anna Yojana.
She said the cash subsidy would be transferred directly into the bank account of the senior most female member of the family.
"This is an important step forward towards making Delhi a hunger-free state", she said.
Talking about difficulties being faced by her government, Dikshit referred to obstacles coming in the way of completion of various inter-state projects aimed at giving some relief to Delhi from increasing population.
Exhorting the northern states to adopt a "positive and constructive" approach in completion of such projects, Dikshit referred to Munak canal project as well as the Western Peripheral Expressway and the Eastern Peripheral Expressway.
The Munak canal was constructed by Haryana with financial assistance of around Rs412 crore given by Delhi government on the condition that the national capital will be supplied 80 million gallons per day (MGD) of water from it. But later, Haryana refused to supply the water to the city.
On expressways, she said the land acquisition cost of Western Peripheral Expressway has gone up from Rs850 crore to Rs1,307 crore and is estimated to go up to around Rs2,500 crore. The two expressways have been planned to cut the load of vehicles which are not destined to Delhi.
Mentioning scarcity of water as major challenge facing Delhi, Dikshit also referred to the Renuka reservoir project which has not been given clearance by the Union Environment Ministry.
Dikshit also called upon banks to facilitate loans to slum dwellers who have been alloted flats by the government at nominal rates.
"The banks need to be proactive in considering applications for loan to those who have been allotted EWS (Econimically Weaker Section) flats.
Expressing unhapiness over central assistance to Delhi, she said Delhi should be treated like a full-fledged state for its share in central taxes.
"The rapid increase in the population of Delhi puts pressure on all services and amenities. Hence, the union government, especially the Union Finance Ministry, must give most sympathetic consideration to our financial needs," she said.