Aadhaar row: Activists say workers under rural scheme will be denied jobs, govt denies
The government and activists are on a warpath over allegations that more than half of all workers under the rural jobs scheme will be denied employment because the deadline for Aadhaar enrolment has passed.Aadhaar Controversy Updated: Jul 19, 2017 12:44 IST
The government and activists are on a warpath over allegations that more than half of all workers under the rural jobs scheme will be denied employment because the deadline for Aadhaar enrolment has passed.
Activists say any denial of jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) violates orders of the Supreme Court, which has repeatedly said people cannot be denied entitlement
But the Centre has rubbished the claims, saying the March 31 deadline for Aadhaar enrolment has already been extended for another six months and just 16% of ‘active workers’ don’t have Aadhaar but will continue to get work as per demand.
The discrepancy in figures arise as activists looked at ‘all’ workers enrolled under MNREGA but the government considers the number of ‘active workers’ more significant, which comprise of individuals who have worked on any one day in either the current or last three financial years.
Latest official data show that just 119.2 million of the total 260.2 million MNREGA workers (46%) have submitted their Aadhaar number to authorities. As for active workers, 85.5 million of the 102.1 million workers (84%) have done so.
“On the ground, officials have been denying work for not having Aadhaar for two years,” said Annie Raja, general secretary of National Federation of Indian Women.
But Aparajita Sarangi, joint secretary in the ministry of rural development, told HT that the date for enrolment was extended to 30th September and “under no circumstances can workers be denied work for not having Aadhaar”.
She also countered the claims of denial of work. “If there are any such cases where MNREGA workers are denied work, bring it to our knowledge. We are not aware of any such instances.”
There are other sources of exclusion, activists said. Hindustan Times reported earlier this month that nearly 10 million job cards were struck off the rolls in a bid to plug loopholes. “This is likely to have deleted several willing people, thus denying citizens their entitlement of the right to work,” the press note issued by the activists said.
While the law says “job cards can be cancelled only if the household has migrated permanently to the urban areas or it is proved to be duplicate or fake job card”, ground reports from Jharkhand apparently show “other” and “unwilling” were the primary reasons stated for the scrapping of the document, which is a violation of ministry’s own guidelines, activists alleged.
Government officials say that job card cancellation plugged a major source of “fund leakage” but activists claim otherwise. Ankita Agarwal, an independent researcher based in Jharkhand, says a job card in itself didn’t guarantee money. “Unlike ration cards, individuals can’t avail benefits under MNREGA unless they participate in actual work,” she said. “Ration card need not be linked to a bank account to avail benefits, but job cards have to necessarily be linked to an account as money will come only into the accounts that makes it even more difficult to siphon of funds off these so-called ‘fake’ cards.”
Further, the government has neither disclosed the consolidated list of deleted job cards nor have the details of methodology for verification drive and reasons for terming the cards “fake” been made public, leaving no scope for independent verification, activists complain.
First Published: Apr 20, 2017 12:14 IST