An audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) found multiple irregularities in the implementation of flagship direct benefit transfer (DBT) schemes of the previous BRS regime, including but not limited to Aasara pensions, Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bima. The report said, on average, pensions to 2.3 lakh beneficiaries — roughly six per cent of the total — remained undisbursed from April 2018 to March 2021.

A cross-check of Aasara beneficiaries and ‘Samagra Kutumba Survey (SKS)’ data revealed that 19 per cent of households that did not figure in the SKS data and 16 per cent of households ineligible for pension were included as beneficiaries, indicating ineffective verification and identification processes. 

The CAG noticed irregular and inappropriate sanction of pensions, resulting in payment of Rs 535.39 crore under the categories of disabled (Rs 71.90 crore), bidi workers (Rs 446.96 crore) and single women (Rs 1.70 crore) to more than one member in a household.

Similarly, analysis of the Rythu Bandhu data from 2018 to 2020 by juxtaposing it with Aasara pension beneficiary details revealed that persons owning land more than the eligible limits — as prescribed in the Aasara pension rules — showed that undue benefits of Rs 67.41 crore were given in the period. Analysis of Rythu Bima data from August 2018 to February 2020, alongside Aasara

beneficiary details, revealed that a pension benefit of Rs 90 lakh was irregularly paid to 367 deceased beneficiaries beyond their date of death.

Analysis of transport department data, as of May 2017, alongside Aasara beneficiary details, revealed that an undue benefit of Rs 51.98 crore was passed on to ineligible beneficiaries having four-wheelers. Analysis of stamps and registration data with Aasara beneficiary details revealed that a benefit of Rs 31.42 crore was extended to persons involved in the registration of assets of more than Rs 10 lakh each.

The beneficiaries identified as ineligible by the government were not weeded out, resulting in irregular payment of Rs 1,175 crore to 2.02 lakh ineligible beneficiaries in all, the report stated. Best Fingerprint Detection (BFD) authentication failure for nine per cent of the beneficiaries in March 2021 resulted in payments through biometric authentication of the panchayat secretary or bill collector. Repeated failure of BFD authentication ranging from 7 to 30 months was noticed for 21,536 beneficiaries, who were paid Rs 58.33 crore, the audit found. 

On average, a survey of 480 beneficiaries found that 32 (7 per cent) were ineligible for the pension benefit as per their own statement. Of these, the government confirmed the ineligibility of 15 beneficiaries.

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