The use of technology is nullifying MGNREGA’s objective of stopping distress migration: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh

States racing against the June 30 timeline are resorting to removing workers who have discrepancies between the Aadhaar and job card databases

June 26, 2023 03:43 am | Updated 03:43 am IST - New Delhi

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh in New Delhi on Sunday. 

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh in New Delhi on Sunday.  | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

One of the basic objectives of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was to minimise distress migration but excessive reliance on technology was reversing the trend, Congress general secretary and former Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said.

He was reacting to The Hindu’s report flagging high deletion rate of registered MGNREGS workers due to a mismatch between job card and Aadhaar card details. The deletion rates have spiked because the Centre made Aadhaar-based payments mandatory from June 30. The States racing against the timeline are resorting to removing the workers who have discrepancies between the two databases.

“One of the basic objectives of MGNREGA was to minimise distress migration. That had happened. Now technology use seems to reversing the trend and not just in Odisha. The Modi Govt. is strangulating MGNREGA in the name of digitalisation,” Mr. Ramesh said in a tweet.

By June 23 this year, 61 lakh workers had been deleted, with the various reasons cited ranging from “not willing to work” to “fake job cards”, amounting to net deletion of 1.16% of registered workers. According to an analysis by research group Lib Tech, the financial year 2022-23 saw a 244.3% hike in the number of deleted workers. From 1.49 crore deletions in 2021-22, with net deletion at 1.8%, the numbers climbed to 5.13 crore deletions in 2022-23 with net deletion rate of 14.28%.

While the Union Rural Development Ministry has said that the exercise is aimed at weeding out corruption, including duplicate and fake job cards, The Hindu’s field visit to Rayagada district in Odisha, which has one of the highest rate of deletions, found that many genuine workers have also been left out.

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