Faulty compulsion: On the issue of MGNREGS and Aadhaar seeding

Issues with Aadhaar-seeding are a headache for MGNREGS beneficiaries

There are other issues with the use of the Aadhaar-based payments — where errors in any step of the process result in payment failures. Apart from the spelling discrepancy issue between the Aadhaar and the job card of the worker, there is also the problem of mapping the Aadhaar to the wrong bank account for many. In a number of cases, payments can be diverted to some other account than the one beneficiaries prefer, and also without their consent. Claims by the government that Aadhaar use has reduced delays in wage payments have also not been borne out, according to LibTech India, with wage delays largely due to insufficient funds in the first place. Without cleaning up Aadhaar seeding and mapping with bank accounts, making the ABPS mandatory will only create further issues. The Union government must revisit this decision, and work out a way to correct the faulty seeding and mapping problems before imposing ABPS. The Ministry of Rural Development has said that it may consider an exemption from ABPS on a case-to-case basis for gram panchayats if there are technical issues, but it would be better if the Ministry conducts social audits to ascertain the extent of the problem before insisting on ABPS. MGNREGS remains a vital demand-driven welfare scheme that helps the rural poor and its implementation must not be dependent upon a faulty technological system.