The move is aimed at stopping various malpractices related to seeking jobs under the scheme
Bihar rural development department has issued an order to immediately cancel over 7.25 million unused job cards under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). There are 1,260 million job-card holders under the scheme in the state.
Amrit Lal Meena, principal secretary of the rural development department, told Down to Earth that the identified card holders had never applied for jobs under the scheme because of reasons such as migration to cities and availability of higher paying jobs locally. “These 7.25 million cards are being cancelled to stop malpractices. It is a part of clean-up drive,” Meena says.
He adds that the department had tried to encourage people to apply under the scheme. “In order to boost the job demand, the department had initiated many schemes like job fairs,” he says. In the last fiscal year, the department had launched similar drives to validate the family wise distribution of cards. In the drive, around 1.5 million job cards were annulled after it was found that more than one member of the family was issued job cards. Under the scheme, only one member of a household is entitled to get a job card.
Media reports have suggested in the past that the 7.25 million cards were fake, a claim Meena refutes. “The cards were issued to eligible households, but were never used by them. So, there is no question of them being fake. In fact, the decision to cancel them has been taken to avoid misuse,” he says.
The department has also started an initiative to organise an employment day every week at the panchayat level to register and verify job cards holders. Meena says his department is focusing on the Scheduled Caste MGREGS job seekers and has created a separate database for them.
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