The State Government of Odisha has made linking Aadhaar number to bank accounts mandatory for beneficiaries of social welfare schemes from April 1, ANI reported. The move, which is aimed at checking pilferage, applies to recipients of pension under the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) and the Madhubabu Pension Yojana (MBPY).

“Aadhaar seeding is about 91% per cent in case of NSAP and about 73 per cent in case of MBPY in Odisha. Aadhaar seeding needs to be enhanced to 100 per cent immediately for ensuring complete transparency in respect of these two schemes,” read the letter from the Commissioner-cum-secretary, Department of Social Security and empowerment of Persons with disabilities, the ANI report said.

Scheme beneficiaries, with Aadhaar seeding pending, will have to bring a copy of their Aadhaar card when they come to receive pension on January 15, the Hindustan Times reported. Those without an Aadhaar card will be taken to a team that will collect details for the issuance of the same. Meanwhile, District Social Security Officers have been asked to identify beneficiaries who have died and delete the names of those who receive pension in NSAP even after they are covered under MBPY or vice versa, according to the New Indian Express.

All districts have to complete the Aadhaar verification before sanctioning any new beneficiary under both NSAP and MBPY. They have to complete the seeding process by March 15. Aadhaar linking of all beneficiaries under NSAP and MBPY failed to complete by October 2019, according to The Hindu.

The Naveen Patnaik government in 2017 opposed linking Aadhaar to accounts of beneficiaries of welfare schemes on the grounds that it will cause “hardship” to beneficiaries, reported Hindustan Times.

This requirement comes after a similar step was taken by the Finance Ministry towards the end of December 2019. It had asked senior citizens who have invested in Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY) to submit their Aadhaar number to reduce instances of fraud and impersonation.

Deadline extensions for Aadhaar linking are common now. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had recently extended the last data for Aadhaar linking to PAN to March 31, 2020 from December 31, 2019. This was the eighth time that the deadline had been extended.