By Sridhar Dharmasanam
Hyderabad: The centre has cancelled one crore fake 'job cards' across the nation in what is called one of the world's biggest employment guarantee scheme, MGNREGA. According to the officials here, the clean up operation was necessitated as the rampant leakage of funds and diversion of money was reported from several states while implementing the scheme. However, Telangana State did not figure in the list.
The MGNREGA scheme was launched by the Centre under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, to ensure employment to the rural poor through one job card to each family. The number of fake beneficiaries stuck off from the scheme so far was more than 31 million which is equivalent to more than 14% of the active households engaged in the job scheme, the officials said.
The scheme was launched by the previous Congress-led UPA government. Later, the Narendra Modi government, which stormed to power in 2014 with the promise of rooting out corruption, has been trying to ensure that social scheme benefits are more target-oriented, thus narrowing the scope of fraud. It has also linked LPG subsidy and school midday meals to Aadhaar, so that the government could ensure funds go only to the beneficiaries.
"We have done a house-to-house survey to check the authenticity of MGNREGA workers. We have focused on two things: migration and death of job seekers. In the job cards, we look at Aadhaar numbers, photos of beneficiaries and details of payments," said rural development secretary Amarjeet Sinha.
The job scheme had even brought differences between the Congress and the BJP, with the latter accusing the Congress of plundering government money in a ill-conceived scheme. After coming to power, the BJP decided to revive the scheme by cleaning it up. Accordingly, Modi directed the officials to ensure transparency and accountability on MGNREGA.
The highest number of fake job cards, 21.67 lakhs, were cancelled in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh while in Uttar Pradesh, 19.4 lakh cards were scrapped. However, fake cards were not found in Telangana so far. The job card holds the key to not only securing a job but also payments. Every job card holder is entitled to employment under the act. However, there is still long way to go to ensure a full-proof system in MGNREGA.