Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha, on July 25 informed that names of over five crore workers have been deleted under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in the financial year 2022-23. There has been a hike of 247% in the deletions during 2022-23 as compared to 2021-22.
The question was raised by two Congress members Gaurav Gogoi and V.K. Sreekandan, who asked the Ministry to clarify if there has been a hike of 244.3% in deletions during 2022-23 as compared to 2021-22, a fact that was flagged in The Hindu news story on June 25.
The Ministry, in its reply, has said these deletions are a “regular exercise” conducted by State governments. They have listed five reasons for the deletions, including — fake job card, duplicate job card, not willing to work, family shifted from gram panchayat permanently and single person in job card and the person is expired. As per the statistics maintained by the Rural Development Ministry, there are about 10 reasons listed for deletions of workers and job cards — incorrect job card, fake applicant, duplicate applicant, family had been shifted, person shifted to a new family, single person in job card and expired, unwilling to work, person expired, non-existent panchayat and village becomes urban.
Linking with Aadhaar cards
The Hindu had reported that the deletions are spiralling because of the government’s emphasis on linking MGNREGS job cards with Aadhaar cards and making wage payments through the Aadhaar-Based Payments System (ABPS). This year alone, till June 23, 61 lakh registered workers have been deleted. In an indirect admission of the problem at hand, the Ministry, for the fourth time, extended the deadline for mandatory wage payments to August 31. The first order was issued on January 30, setting the deadline for February 1, it was later extended to March 31 and then it was set for June 30. Meanwhile, in a written reply on Tuesday, Mr. Singh said it was the State government’s responsibility to properly implement the programme.
Among the 34 States and union territories, between the financial years 2021-22 and 2022-23, West Bengal has reported the largest hike in deletion, a whopping 5,199%. The Centre has stopped all payments to the State under the MGNREGS for reportedly not following the programme’s guidelines. It is followed by Telangana (2727%) and Andhra Pradesh (1147%). Uttar Pradesh has reported a deletion of 466% and Uttarakhand 427%.