The Central government will not extend the deadline for implementing Aadhaar-based payment system as the only mode of payment to workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). beyond August 31, government sources said. The government in January 2023 made the use of Aadhaar-based payment system (ABPS) mandatory for paying wages to those enrolled under the MGNREGS.
The original deadline for the mandatory adoption of the Aadhaar-based payment system (ABPS) was February 1. This deadline was subsequently extended to March 31, then further to June 30, and finally to August 31. However, officials from the Ministry of Rural Development have said that the deadline will not be extended any further. They mentioned that more than 90 per cent of the active workers' accounts have already been linked with Aadhaar, implying that the implementation is progressing well.
Aadhaar linked with 13.75 crore beneficiaries
According to a statement issued by the ministry in June, out of a total of 14.28 crore active beneficiaries, Aadhaar have been linked with 13.75 crore beneficiaries. A total of 12.17 crore Aadhaar numbers have been authenticated and 77.81 per cent were found eligible for ABPS at that time, as per the ministry. In May 2023, about 88 per cent of the wage payments were made through ABPS.
The ministry had also said that the data of job cards issued to beneficiaries of MGNREGS cannot be deleted on the basis of the reason that the worker is not eligible for ABPS.
1.13 crore MGNREGS workers active
According to a written reply by Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh in Parliament during the recently-concluded monsoon session, bank accounts of around 1.13 crore MGNREGS workers, or around eight per cent of the total active workers under the scheme, are yet to be seeded with Aadhaar.
North-eastern states are lagging behind in the process, with accounts of more than 42 per cent workers in Assam, around 23 per cent in Arunachal Pradesh, over 70 per cent in Meghalaya, and 37 per cent in Nagaland not being seeded with Aadhaar numbers.
ABPS as an alternative payment mode along with the direct account transfer mode has been in use under MNREGS since 2017. Ministry officials said that states have been asked to organise camps and follow up with beneficiaries to achieve 100 per cent ABPS adoption.
(With PTI inputs)