New Delhi: The central government extended the cut off date for 100 per cent Aadhaar coverage in the MGNREGA to September 30, instead of the earlier deadline of March 31. The move comes after the Centre faced widespread criticism from civil society activists over making Aadhaar compulsory for getting work under the national employment guarantee programme.
The rural development ministry had earlier said that from April 1, it will be compulsory for all seeking work under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee scheme to have an Aadhaar number.
Civil society activists have alleged that the drive to link Aadhaar to the MGNREGA had led to many being excluded from the job security scheme.
“We have clarified that Aadhaar is not compulsory for MGNREGA. However, the Centre will carry out a drive to enable all workers with an Aadhaar card and the new deadline is September 30,” rural development secretary Amarjeet Sinha told this newspaper.
As of now, 84 per cent of workers have been given their Aadhaar cards. Mr Sinha said it was a myth that people were losing work for not having Aadhaar cards. “Every day we are adding 500 new job cards.” Disputing the contention that many workers have been dropped for not having Aadhaar cards, the senior official said that only those not active have been dropped. “People who have not worked for at least a day in the last three years are the ones who are considered to be inactive workers and we are dropping their names so that new job cards can be made.”
Contesting this, activist Nikhil Dey of the Mazdoor Kishan Shakti Sangthan, said that cancelling anybody’s job card was against the MGNREGA Act. “Under the Act, you can cancel a job card only if the person is no more or you can prove that the person has migrated,” Mr Dey said.
The activist pointed out that as per Section 4 of Schedule II of the MGNREGA act, a job card can only be deleted if it is found to be a duplicate, if it is found that the entire household has migrated permanently to another village or in case of death of the owner.
The MGNREGA, which was a flagship programme launched by the UPA government in 2006, is a law whereby any adult who applies for employment in rural areas has to be given work on local public works within 15 days. If employment is not given, an unemployment allowance has to be paid.