Aadhaar-based payment  for rural jobs, big cut in funds trigger uproar

I have been out of work for two months because of the mandatory digital attendance. I am yet to get earlier dues,” she told this newspaper.

Published: 17th February 2023 07:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th February 2023 07:28 AM   |  A+A-

A group of MGNREGS workers returning home after a day’s work at Parayathukonam near Chirayinkeezhu in Thiruvananthapuram | file photo

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  After the mandatory imposition of a new digital-attendance app for workers and the drastic cut in the budgetary allocation for NREGA, the government’s recent order to route NREGA wage payments through the Aadhaar Based Payment System (ABPS) is another big blow to rural job scheme, said several workers who are on a 100 day protest at Jantar Mantar in the capital.

Sita Kumari from Bihar is among hundreds of workers protesting under the banner NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a national collective of trade unions, workers platforms and organizations, in the capital. “I have heard about the new ABPS system, and I think it will further delay the payment of workers. I have been out of work for two months because of the mandatory digital attendance. I am yet to get earlier dues,” she told this newspaper.

From February 1, this year, the Ministry of Rural Development made it mandatory that all payments to the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA beneficiaries would be made through Aadhaar Based Payment System (ABPS) only. This move comes close on the heels of a 33 percent cut in the Budget allocation for NREGA in the Union Budget to Rs 60,000 crore.  From January 1 onwards, the NMMS digital-attendance App was made compulsory for the workers across the country.

Speaking at a press meet organised by NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, economist Jean Dreze said that the enforcement of the ABPS is the biggest attack on NREGA so far. “The Aadhar based payment will result in the majority of MGNREGA workers not being paid their duly earned wages. And an even larger majority of workers will not know whether they are or are not eligible for ABPS.

This is a truly shocking order and can destroy the programme. This order reeks of the same kind of recklessness and irresponsibility that was demonstrated by the government in its announcement of demonetization and the national lockdown,” said Dreze. The NSM also demanded the immediate removal of NMMS app, the revocation of ABPS, and a time bound action plan to ensure that all NREGA workers are paid their wages within 15 days of them completing work

Maheshwari Devi from Muzaffarpur in Bihar says that though she reaches work at 9am, she has to stay at the worksite till 4pm because her photo needs to be uploaded twice a day for her to get her wage.


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