Opposition states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka fail to meet NREGA-Aadhaar linking target

NEW DELHI: Many big states, especially those ruled by the opposition like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka, are set to miss the Centre’s July-end deadline of seeding all their MGNREGA workers with Aadhaar and ensure wages are paid to them through Aadhaar-based Payment Bridge.

The consent of just 528 workers out of a balance 45 lakh workers in Karnataka could be taken so far in special camps that started on May 15 to ensure Aadhaar authenticated payment of wages and just 20 workers out of 15 lakh still awaiting an Aadhaar number enrolled for the same in the camps, the Centre has written to the Chief Secretary of Karnataka.

jpg (1)Identical letters have gone from Rural Development Secretary J.S. Mathur to all states on June 10, impressing upon them the deadline for the twin targets and stressing it be accorded “top priority”. But the progress so far shows most big states, including Gujarat with only 8% workers covered under Aadhaar authenticated wage system so far, will miss the deadline.

ET was the first to report the Centre’s big push to a 100% Aadhaar-based MGNREGA on May 17 through special camps by the states in the gram panchayats. States, however, do not seem to have warmed up to setting up these camps.

UP, which has 1.04 Cr MGNREGA workers, has nearly half of them seeded with an Aadhaar – the state has overall 71% Aadhaar saturation – but only 5% of workers in the state have given consent to get their wages through Aadhaar authentication and only 1178 workers have turned up for the same in camps in UP so far.

This figure is just 7% in West Bengal, which has maximum 1.34 Cr workers, and merely 1% in Bihar, the Centre has written to their respective state Chief Secretaries. Covering MGNREGA completely by an Aadhaar-authenticated payment system is a priority for the PMO as MGNREGA is the biggest subsidy payout at Rs 2500 Cr every month.

PM Narendra Modi has been stressing on savings under Direct Benefits Transfer, includingRs3000CrunderMGNREGA in 2014-15 by weeding out duplicate beneficiaries. “Ensuring all MGNREGA payments through Aadhaar authentication could increase savings much more. But consent of the worker is required to do the same. The states need to do more,” a PMO official said.