Nearly 7.5 lakh beneficiaries of the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana are registered under a single cellphone number – 9999999999, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has flagged, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.

A performance audit report on the central government’s flagship scheme for health insurance for poor people was placed in the Lok Sabha on Monday. The linking of 7,49,820 beneficiaries to a single cellphone number was not an isolated anomaly, the report showed. More than 1.39 lakh beneficiaries have been linked to the number 8888888888, while over 96,000 have been linked to 9000000000.

At least 20 other cellphone numbers have 10,000 to 50,000 beneficiaries linked to them, The Indian Express reported, citing the Comptroller and Auditor General.

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The report also pointed out that mobile numbers are important as those availing the scheme could use them if they lose their identification cards.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India said in its report that the National Health Authority has agreed to its observations and said that the irregularities will be taken care of after the Beneficiary Identification System 2.0 is launched for the health insurance scheme.

“...The BIS 2.0 system has been configured so that more than a certain number of families cannot use the same mobile number,” the health authority has said, according to The Indian Express. “This shall arrest the prevalence of entering ‘random numbers’ which constitute the overwhelming cases of mobile number inconsistency.”

‘Unrealistic family size’

The report also flagged that in thousands of cases, beneficiaries of the scheme have been shown to have unusually large families, The Indian Express reported.

“...In 43,197 households, the size of the family was unrealistic, ranging from 11 to 201 members” the report noted. “Presence of such unrealistic members in a household in the BIS database indicates not only lack of essential validation controls in the beneficiary registration process, but also the possibility that beneficiaries are taking advantage of the lack of a clear definition of family in the guidelines.”

In this case too, the National Health Authority has accepted the auditor’s observations. The authority said that it was developing a policy, which would not allow the database management system to add more than 15 members for any beneficiary family.

Pension credited to dead beneficiaries

The Comptroller and Auditor General has flagged that as many as 2,103 beneficiaries of the National Social Assistance Program were given pensions between 2017 and 2021 even after they had died, The Print reported.

The National Social Assistance Programme is aimed at providing basic financial support to old people, widows and disabled people who are below the poverty line.

In a report, The Comptroller and Auditor General observed that the death of beneficiaries was not being reported by gram panchayats or municipalities in a timely manner.

The highest number of cases where pension was being credited were reported in West Bengal (453 cases), followed by Gujarat (413 cases) and Tripura (250 cases), according to The Print.