Case-by-case exemption from new MGNREGS payment system: Centre

Congress terms Union government’s move to make Aadhaar-linked system mandatory a ‘cruel New Year gift’, and accuses it of ‘weaponising technology’ to exclude the poor; government highlights benefits of Aadhaar seeding, says success rate higher than that of account-based payments

Updated - January 02, 2024 09:28 am IST

Published - January 01, 2024 03:43 pm IST - New Delhi

With an Aadhaar-based system reportedly becoming mandatory for MGNREGA payments, the Congress on January 1 said the Modi government should “stop weaponising technology”, especially Aadhaar, to deny the most vulnerable Indians their social welfare benefits.

With an Aadhaar-based system reportedly becoming mandatory for MGNREGA payments, the Congress on January 1 said the Modi government should “stop weaponising technology”, especially Aadhaar, to deny the most vulnerable Indians their social welfare benefits. | Photo Credit: Debasish Bhaduri

Workers will get exemption on a case-to-case basis from the Aadhaar-based payment system of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Union Rural Development Ministry said in a statement on Monday in response to a report in The Hindu that 34.8% of the registered workers and 12.7% of active workers remain ineligible for this mandatory payment method.

The push for the new system has also led to a high rate of job card deletions, as evidenced by anecdotal evidence and ground reports. The Hindu reported that 7.6 crore workers have been deleted since April 2022, as per data collated by Lib Tech India, a consortium of academics and activists. The Ministry, in its response, asserted, “Job cards of household can be deleted only in certain specific conditions but not due to ABPS. Updation/deletion of Job Cards is a regular exercise conducted by the States/UTs.”

‘Excluding poor’

The Congress called the Union government’s decision a “cruel New Year gift”. Party general secretary (communications) Jairam Ramesh accused the government of “weaponising technology” to “exclude crores of the poorest and marginalised Indians from earning a basic income”.

“The Prime Minister’s well-known disdain for MGNREGS has translated into a slew of experiments designed to use technology as a weapon to exclude — such as the digital attendance (NMMS), ABPS, drone monitoring and the proposed integration of facial recognition to NMMS,” he said. He added that no due consultation or scientific piloting was done before unleashing these “experiments” on crores of Indians.

‘Revoke the order’

The Congress reiterated its demand for the order to be revoked. “The Indian National Congress reiterates its demand of 30th August, 2023 that the Modi government should stop weaponsing technology, especially Aadhaar, to deny the most vulnerable Indians their social welfare benefits, release delayed wage payments and implement open muster rolls and social audits to improve transparency,” Mr. Ramesh said.

In response to Mr. Ramesh’s allegation, the government in a statement on Monday night said that Aadhaar seeding of beneficiaries is a “continuous process and is done as a de-duplication exercise to authenticate the genuine beneficiaries” and “make the benefits of the social welfare schemes available only to genuine beneficiaries”. The government reiterated its earlier claim that in comparison to account-based payment where the success rate is 98%, the success rate is 99.55% where the Aadhaar is enabled for Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).

It has also dismissed a study by LibTech India, which Mr. Ramesh also quoted, which noted that the benefit of the ABPS is limited. The Ministry argued that in terms of scale, even the 3% gain is very significant.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.