Aadhaar nudge for PM

– CM plea: Don’t make card mandatory for job scheme

Calcutta: Mamata Banerjee today said she would soon write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him not to make Aadhaar cards mandatory for employment under the 100-day job scheme.

The chief minister did not specify if the state had received any instruction from Delhi regarding Aadhaar cards being made mandatory for employment under the central scheme for people in rural areas. Officials at Nabanna said Mamata pre-empted trouble in case such a decision was taken.

The officials pointed out that 40 per cent of Bengal’s population was yet to get Aadhaar cards and a large section of the rural populace would lose out on the jobs if the document was made mandatory.

Mamata said during a get-together with journalists at Nabanna: “Until everybody gets an Aadhaar card, it should not be made mandatory for work under the 100-day job scheme. I will soon write to the Prime Minister on this.”

A senior government official told this correspondent that “a recent letter from Delhi” mentioned that it was “desirable” that all job-card holders under the central scheme have Aadhaar cards.

“But the letter did not say those who do not have Aadhaar cards would not get employment. So it is not mandatory as yet,” the official said.

Sources said the state government would face a tough task ensuring that the entire population had Aadhaar cards.

“The government is likely to face trouble as 40 per cent of the 9.2 crore people of Bengal do not have Aadhaar cards…. If it is made mandatory, a large section of the rural populace will miss out on the only scheme that gives direct cash to beneficiaries. I think the chief minister pre-empted this,” another official said.

Around 2.76 crore people in Bengal are registered under the 100-day job scheme.

“This will have a huge impact in rural areas. As the chief of the ruling party, Mamata will not want trouble over the scheme soon after returning to power with a thumping majority…. This is the reason why she raised the issue even though the Centre has not made Aadhaar cards mandatory for the job scheme,” a minister said.

According to panchayat department officials, nearly Rs 4,000 crore was spent in the last financial year to provide work to beneficiaries under the 100-day job scheme.

“If the state has to take the burden of those who don’t have Aadhaar cards if it is made mandatory, the sum required would be around Rs 1,500 crore a year. It is a huge amount considering the poor financial condition of the state,” said an official.