HRF and LibTech team flags large-scale deletion of job cards and names of MGNREGS workers in A.P.

A LibTech report has put the deletions in 2022-23 at a whopping 59.6%, and a reality check by the team in three villages spread over two mandals shows that the reasons cited are erroneous in the case of 25 of the 30 beneficiaries

August 20, 2023 07:10 pm | Updated 07:10 pm IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

The deletion of job cards and names of beneficiaries under the MGNREGS has resulted in deprivation of the right to work of the people in the rural and tribal areas, says the HRF and LibTech team.

The deletion of job cards and names of beneficiaries under the MGNREGS has resulted in deprivation of the right to work of the people in the rural and tribal areas, says the HRF and LibTech team. | Photo Credit: File Photo

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) and the LibTech, a research organisation focusing on issues of public service delivery, are extremely concerned about the large number of deletions of the job cards and names of workers in Andhra Pradesh under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) during the year 2022-23.

These deletions have resulted in a deprivation of the right to work of the people in the rural and tribal areas.

A three-member team of the HRF and LibTech visited three villages — Chintalapadu and Balesu in Gummalakshmipuram mandal and Duribili in Kurupam mandal of Parvathipuram Manyam district on August 19 to understand the ground reality.

The visit was undertaken in the background of a recent report by the LibTech that highlighted the issue of large-scale deletions under the MGNREGS not only in Andhra Pradesh but also in several other States.

The report said that the names of 77.9 lakh workers were deleted during 2022-23 in Andhra Pradesh, which was a whopping 59.6% of the total 1.22 crore workers in the State!

Reasons for deletions

Members of the team had spoken to 30 workers in the three villages whose names were deleted from the MGNREGS records.

The reasons for the deletions were mentioned as “unwilling to work” or “person died” or “person non-existent in the panchayat,” the report said.

“We have found that the reasons are valid in only five cases. The deletions are wrong in the remaining 25 cases,” said the team members.

For instance, Kolaka Rangarao (29) of Chinatalapadu village told us that his name was removed citing that he was “deceased.” Similarly, the name of Aarika Chukkamma of Duribili village was removed, and the reason cited was “unwilling to work.”

Shift in payment system

During their interaction with the workers and field assistants of the MGNREGS, the team members had found that the deletions were a result of the shifting of the payment system to the National Informatics Centre (NIC) of the Central government data base and the mandatory shifting to the Aadhaar-based payment system from the earlier bank account based system.

“All the workers are expected to link their bank accounts with the correct Aadhaar number, complete the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) mapping, and make sure that all the details in Aadhaar card, job card and ration card are correct in respect of name, age and gender,” said K. Anuradha, Visakhapatnam district general secretary of HRF.

In the tribal areas, the beneficiaries were subjected to a lot of drudgery by forcing them to make multiple visits to the Aadhaar centres and banks for correcting their details in the job cards, Aadhaar seeding and NPCI mapping, said B. Kishore of LibTech.

Flawed approach

“The MGNREGS functionaries are expected to help the workers rectify the errors in the job cards and in NPCI mapping with the banks. However, due to lack of training and tight deadlines on shifting to the Aadhaar based payment system, the functionaries have deleted the names of many workers by mentioning random reasons,” said P. Raghu, HRF Visakhapatnam district president.

Consequently, the workers had lost the right to work under the scheme for the last one year.

The team also found that many who had already worked under the scheme were not paid wages.

“The impression we gather is that the scheme is dying a slow death because it has been pushed into a centralised digital maze, where resolving issues takes months and even years,” said Ms. Anuradha.

The impact on the tribal people was much more, given their low level of digital literacy and abysmal infrastructure.

“The MGNREGS functionaries at district and State levels need to respond seriously and in a time-bound manner to resolve the issue. Guidelines must be issued and suitable training imparted to the district and block level functionaries,” they said.

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