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HomeBangaloreIn Karnataka, government ‘guarantees’ elusive for many as wait for benefits continues

In Karnataka, government ‘guarantees’ elusive for many as wait for benefits continues

Less than 40 km away from Bengaluru is Chikkanahalli in Bengaluru Rural district where 53-year-old Jayalakshmamma lies on the floor, chatting with husband Srinivasappa. Jayalakshmamma’s family is among several families in Karnataka that are yet to receive any money under the Congress government’s much-touted Gruha Lakshmi and Anna Bhagya schemes.

Jayalakshmamma is entitled to monthly financial aid of Rs 2,000 under the Gruha Lakshmi scheme and Rs 170 per month under the Anna Bhagya scheme for BPL households. The stumbling block, however, is the family’s ration card, which until recently was in the name of her late mother-in-law Manjamma. All the benefits have been transferred to Manjamma’s inactive account.

“We could not withdraw it. We have to change the family head’s name in the ration card to mine, after which, local officials say, the benefits will be transferred,” she says. The family has changed the name and done the rounds of offices to get their Aadhaar card linked to the account. “It will take 40 more days before we get the money…that is what local officials are saying now,” she says.

While the cash transfer for Anna Bhagya beneficiaries began in July, the Gruha Lakshmi scheme was launched in Mysuru on August 30 after several postponements. Since then, however, technical issues have hampered the implementation of these schemes due to various reasons, including the one faced by Jayalakshmamma.

Benefits also remain elusive for BPL families who have not changed to new account numbers at banks that have undergone mergers. Even though registration for the Anna Bhagya scheme was launched on June 15, there are problems in registering new beneficiaries.

The government is reportedly thinking of addressing such issues by having anganwadi workers go door to door and verify who got benefits and who did not, a panchayat development officer said under the condition of anonymity.

Jayalakshmamma’s neighbour Lakshmi is lucky her family’s card is linked to her mother-in-law Sumangala’s account. They have received benefits under Gruha Lakshmi, Anna Bhagya and Gruha Jyothi (free power scheme). “Prices have all increased. So, the money will help,” says Lakshmi, even as Sumangala sits in front of the TV, engrossed in a Kannada daily soap.

At the Grama Panchayat office in Doddaganjur in Kolar district’s Srinivaspur taluk, Abdul Rasheed is checking whether the account of the new head of the family – his wife Bibi Jan – has been linked to the Aadhaar card. ‘Ration Card Number Not found. Please visit your nearest fair price shop,’ says the government’s Gruha Lakshmi app after the computer operator inputs his card number.

“We changed the name of the account two months ago. We are yet to get the benefits,” he says, as the office help points out that this is Rasheed’s third visit in as many weeks. It is the same story for Manjunath, who is also on his way to check if his ration card has been linked yet.

On the outskirts of Narasapur town in Kolar, Amaravathi’s family is struggling with another issue. It has been years since Vijaya Bank merged with Bank of Baroda in 2019. But Amaravathi’s mother-in-law Munnaranamma still has an old account number and an old passbook. “We were told at the bank that we have to change it to the new Bank of Baroda account. Then we will get money,” she says, adding that they were going to get this done this week. The family received the Anna Bhagya benefits as the money was transferred to their post-office accounts.

In the house next door, Pushpalatha says she has received benefits under the Gruha Lakshmi and Anna Bhagya scheme. Her Gruha Jyothi benefits will kick in, she says, “once we clear old dues”. “The money helped as my husband was unwell. Mainly, it helped us get medicine,” she says.

Officials at various Grama Panchayats The Indian Express spoke to say that such issues are common. “There is no clarity on what percentage of people have received Gruha Lakshmi benefits. We don’t have the mechanism to check it at our offices despite the numerous inquiries we receive every day,” says an official at Upparpet in Chikkaballapur district.

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“Whoever changed the name of heads of family in ration cards are facing the problem,” the official said, adding that it would take more than a month for such people to get benefits.

At Dodda Aralagere in Bengaluru Rural district, an official said that some people were not getting registered under the scheme even if their documents were in order. “They are getting ration for their cards but we are not able to register them under Gruha Lakshmi,” he said.

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A recent statement issued by Women and Child Development Minister Laxmi Hebbalkar revealed that the government has been able to transfer money to little more than 50 per cent of the beneficiaries of Gruha Lakshmi to date. “The government has transferred money to around 63 lakh women till date. Of the 1.28 crore eligible beneficiaries, 1.12 crore have registered for the scheme,” she said, blaming technical issues for the delay in transferring the benefits

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