Bhubaneswar, Dec 7 (PTI) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today urged the Centre to release funds under National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) without imposing any conditions.

The CM’s missive to Prime Minister Narendra Modi came in the wake of a letter received by the state government from the Ministry of Rural Development over disbursement of pension, under the NSAP scheme, through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) platform.

“I firmly believe that disbursement of pension in cash in accordance with the convenience and choice of beneficiaries is in the best interest of the beneficiaries,” Patnaik wrote to the PM.

The Direct Benefits Transfer platform aims to ensure that benefits go to individuals’ bank accounts electronically, minimising tiers involved in fund flow and thereby reducing delay in payment.

The ministry’s letter, issued in mid-November, had said the sanction of second installment of NSAP is conditional and the Patnaik government is required to detail the action plan for switching over to the DBT platform.

It also said that the state should work with the banks to implement the RBI instructions on doorstep delivery of banking services to senior citizens and differently abled persons.

Patnaik, in his letter to the PM today, said the state had been disbursing pension in cash on every 15th day of a month at the Gram Panchayats and ULB (urban local body) headquarters in an open and transparent manner.

All beneficiaries assembled there are provided pension in cash in public view, he said.

This was being done, the CM said, in view of the difficulties people face in accessing banking service in the state.

There are 4,378 gram panchayats in the state with no bank branches. In other panchayats, too, existing banks have only one staff handling transactions, which makes it difficult for them to take the load of large number of pension beneficiaries, he said.

The chief minister also pointed out that the Odisha model of pension disbursement has been a subject of scholarly research.

Bank payment may cause undue hardship to the vulnerable beneficiaries, he rued.

“I am sanguine you would appreciate the special circumstances of the state and not impose conditions on release of funds,” Patnaik said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.