New Delhi:

Marking the sixth anniversary of the 'Jan Dhan' scheme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that the initiative has been a "game-changer" and served as the foundation for many poverty alleviation initiatives.

After he led the BJP to power in 2014, this was one of his government's first major projects under which bank accounts of crores of people, mostly poor, were opened.

"Today, six years ago, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana was launched with an ambitious aim of banking the unbanked. This initiative has been a game-changer, serving as the foundation for many poverty alleviation initiatives, benefitting crores of people," the prime minister tweeted.

"Thanks to the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, the future of several families has become secure. A high proportion of beneficiaries are from rural areas and are women. I also applaud all those who have worked tirelessly to make PM-JDY a success. #6Years Of JanDhan Yojana," he added.

The graphics shared by him showed that more than 40 crore bank accounts have been opened so far with more than 63 per cent of the beneficiaries belonging to rural areas. Over 55 per cent of them are women.

The government has said that it has been able to directly transfer welfare benefits to the needy due to the scheme.

More than 40.35 crore people benefited from the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) which was launched six years ago as a national mission for financial inclusion, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday.

The Jan Dhan Yojana, which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address in 2014, was launched on August 28, in the same year.

"The PMJDY has been the foundation stone for the Modi government''s people-centric economic initiatives.

"Whether it is direct benefit transfers, COVID-19 financial assistance, PM-KISAN, increased wages under MGNREGA, life and health insurance cover, the first step was to provide every adult with a bank account, which PMJDY has nearly completed," Sitharaman said on the sixth anniversary of the scheme.

Financial Inclusion is a national priority of the government as it is an enabler for inclusive growth, the finance ministry statement said.

It is important as it provides an avenue to the poor for bringing their savings into the formal financial system, an avenue to remit money to their families in villages besides taking them out of the clutches of the usurious money lenders, it said.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur said, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, PMJDY has brought the unbanked into the banking system, expanded the financial architecture of India and brought financial inclusion to over 40 crore account holders and a majority of the beneficiaries are women and most of the accounts are from rural India.

"In today''s COVID-19 times, we have witnessed the remarkable swiftness and seamlessness with which Direct Benefit Transfer (DBTs) have empowered and provided financial security to the vulnerable sections of society.

"An important aspect is that DBTs via PM Jan Dhan accounts have ensured every rupee reaches its intended beneficiary and prevented systemic leakage," he said.

Total deposit balances under PMJDY Accounts was at Rs 1.31 lakh crore and average deposit per account stood at Rs 3,239.

PMJDY is national mission for financial inclusion to ensure access to financial services, namely, savings and deposit accounts, remittance, credit, insurance, pension in an affordable manner.

In 2018, the government launched PMJDY 2.0 with enhanced features and benefits.

Under the new version, the government decided to shift focus from ''Every Household'' to ''Every Unbanked Adult'' and free accidental insurance cover on RuPay cards doubled to Rs 2 lakh for PMJDY accounts opened after August 28, 2018.

At the same time Overdraft (OD) limit too doubled to Rs 10,000 and facility of OD up to Rs 2,000 without conditions was brought in.

In the last one-year period, nearly 3.6 crore Jan Dhan account were opened leading the aggregate number to 40.35 crore as on August 19, 2020.

As per extant RBI guidelines, a PMJDY account is treated as inoperative if there are no customer induced transactions in the account for over a period of two years.

In August, 2020, out of total 40.35 crore PMJDY accounts, 34.81 crore or 86.3 per cent were operative, it said.

The finance ministry said the endeavour is to ensure coverage of PMJDY account holders under micro insurance schemes and improving access of PMJDY account holders to micro-credit and micro-investment such as flexi-recurring deposit etc.