Eminent social scientist Jean Dreze has alleged that MGNREGS job cards have been cancelled in some states to meet targets of linking them with the Aadhaar project.
Dreze’s remarks come amid a political row over the government’s attempt to expand the mandatory use of the country’s unique identity scheme. The scheme, launched under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, ensures employment to the rural population through one job card to each family.
“In some states, for instance, Jharkhand and Karnataka, large numbers of job cards have been cancelled because NREGA functionaries were under pressure to meet the 100% Aadhaar-seeding targets. The easiest way to do that is to cancel the job cards of people whose Aadhaar numbers are eluding the concerned functionaries,” he told Hindustan Times.
Government officials maintain there is no question of denying any job card and every effort is made to provide job cards. They also pointed to the high persondays generated in Jharkhand and Karnataka to counter Dreze’s allegations.
Last week, HT carried a story on how the government has cancelled more than 9.3 million “fake job cards”, with the authorities dubbing the move as a way of stopping leakage of funds.
“In some states, there have been drives to cancel so-called “inactive job cards” or cards that have not been actively used in the recent past to work on MNREGA. This is pointless, and also a violation of the act, since every rural household is entitled to apply for a job card whether they use it or not,” Dreze said.
Dreze also argued that the majority of the cancelled job cards can’t be termed as fake. “Fake cards are very rare. Also, a bogus job card would be of no use, since it would not be possible to link it to a bank account and earn money with it.”
Dreze, who agrees that “there is some corruption in MNREGA” emphasises that “most of the corruption has nothing to do with fake job cards”.