Ram Sevak Sharma, the former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairperson and director-general of Aadhaar government body UIDAI, is among the persons who have received cash instalments from the PM-KISAN scheme, despite not registering for the scheme, as per a media report today.
The report by The Quint highlights that many fake Aadhaar IDs have claimed direct transfer benefits under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi or PM KISAN scheme, which is a minimum income guarantee scheme for small and marginal farmers. Many Indians have received benefits despite not registering for the scheme as per The Quint’s investigation.
Sharma has confirmed the development saying that he received three installments of INR 2,000 each into an SBI account operated by him, even though he has not registered for the scheme, and neither is he a farmer.
Eligible farmers are liable to a direct benefit transfer (DBT) of INR 2,000 per installment and INR 6,000 a year.
Official PM-KISAN records accessed by The Quint in its report show that an account was set up under Sharma’s name on January 8, 2020. The records also show that the account was active for over nine months till at least September 24 before it was deactivated.
On further investigation, the publication found that several ineligible beneficiaries were registered under the scheme through identity impersonation. These fake accounts have also been created under the names of Hindu deity Lord Hanuman, ejected ISI spy Mehboob Rajput and Bollywood actor Riteish Deshmukh.
According to the report, unidentified scammers acquired publicly available Aadhaar card information and created new bank accounts with the same name. They later use the Aadhaar card, the bank account and a phone number to register for the scheme.
Since the data was accepted by official Public Financial Management System (PFMS) software, thereby making them eligible to receive the DBT. Experts tracking the DBT programmes also told the publication that scams like these are happening at a larger scale given that over 10 Cr beneficiaries are registered with the scheme. About 5.5 Lakh ineligible beneficiaries were found in Tamil Nadu, resulting in a loss of INR 110 Cr.
PM KISAN Scheme was launched on December 1, 2020 to provide direct cash benefit of over INR 75,000 Cr. In 2019, the government of India decided to widen its reach by enabling the option of registering online for the scheme. The step will ease the implementation of income-supported schemes, the government said.
According to a reply in the Lok Sabha by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on 9 September, a total amount of INR 94,119 Cr has been disbursed to 10.21 Cr beneficiaries across the country under the scheme thus far.