New Delhi: As many as 11.5 crore bank accounts have been opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, exceeding the enhanced target of 10 crore and covering 99.74 percent of households, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.
"Most of India today is included in the banking system," he said, adding that more than Rs 9,000 crore has been deposited in the Jan Dhan accounts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the financial inclusion scheme in his first Independence Day speech last year. It was launched in August with a target to open bank accounts for 7.5 crore poor persons by January 26, 2015. The target was later increased to 10 crore accounts.
Addressing a press conference here, Jaitley said the government would use these bank accounts to pass on benefits to individuals under its various social security schemes.
Financial Services Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said that even Guinness Book of World Records has recognised the achievements made under PMJDY.
In its citation, the Guinness Book said: "Most bank accounts opened in one week as part of the Financial Inclusion Campaign is 18,096,130 and was achieved by the Department of Financial Services, Government of India from August 23 to 29, 2014."
Exclusion of a large number of people from the banking network was inhibiting growth, Jaitley said.
"Financial Inclusion is one of the top most priorities of the government. PMJDY is the biggest financial inclusion initiative in the world."
He said that out of the accounts opened, 60 percent are in the rural areas and 40 percent in the urban areas. Share of female account holders is about 51 percent.
Jaitley said that RuPay cards have been issued to more than 10 crore beneficiaries who will get a benefit of personal accidental insurance of Rs 1 lakh besides a life insurance cover of Rs 30,000 for eligible beneficiaries.
Describing the scheme as "a game changer for the economy", the minister said that it would provide the platform for Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) and help in plugging leakages in subsidies.
Overall, public sector banks alone opened 9.11 crore accounts under PMJDY, followed by regional rural banks which opened about 2.01 crore accounts. On the other hand, 13 private sector banks together open just 37.58 lakh accounts.
According to Adhia, all these accounts are being used for payment of wages under the MNREGA scheme and LPG subsidy. More than Rs 33,000 crore towards MNREGA, LPG and other benefits will be routed through the bank accounts annually.
On the future of the scheme after January 26, Jaitley said the government will take a view on it later.
Responding to a question of duplication of accounts, the minister admitted that there might be some such cases and that was the reason for enhancing the target to 10 crore accounts.
The issuance of the RuPay cards to account holders would encourage use of plastic money and help in moving towards a cashless society, Jaitley said.
The proposal to provide overdraft facility in such accounts would also act as micro finance and prevent people from taking loans at exorbitant rates from money lenders.
Jaitley said that most of the country has been covered by the PMJDY, except those areas which have poor connectivity, are impacted by left-wing extremist and are inaccessible.
State governments are being requested to transfer cash/ benefits directly in the bank accounts of the beneficiaries thereby cutting layers in the delivery process, Jaitley said.
Under the PAHAL scheme which is the Direct Benefits Transfer in LPG subsidy, he said that an amount of Rs 1,757 crore has been transferred to the beneficiary accounts through the banking network since November 15, 2014.
As many as 19 schemes out of 35 DBT schemes have been rolled-out across the country, including MGNREGA in 300 districts.
Observing that the earlier campaign on financial inclusion started in 2011 had a limited objective, Jaitley said that under the PMJDY, households were targeted instead of only villages.
The UPA government's financial inclusion scheme sought to cover villages with population of 2,000 or more with banking services.
Moreover, Jaitley added, both rural and urban areas were covered this time as against only rural areas targeted earlier.
He said the present plan pursued digital financial inclusion with special emphasis on monitoring by a Mission headed by the Finance Minister himself.