The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), a vital government initiative ensuring rural employment, has introduced the Aadhaar-based payment system (ABPS) for efficient wage distribution. The central government’s focus on transparency and timeliness has led to the establishment of an important deadline: workers must complete the transition to the Aadhaar-based payment system by August 31, 2023.
Steady Progress Toward Implementation
Initially scheduled for implementation on February 1, the Aadhaar-based payment system’s deadline was extended to allow time for adoption: first to March 31, then to June 30. Now, with the August 31 deadline in place, the government aims to solidify the seamless execution of the ABPS for MGNREGS payments.
No Extension for the Deadline
Government sources have clarified that the August 31 deadline will not be extended. A primary reason for this decision is the impressive accomplishment of linking over 90% of active laborers’ accounts with Aadhaar numbers. As of June, out of a total of 14.28 crore active beneficiaries, 13.75 crore have been successfully linked with Aadhaar. Authentication of 12.17 crore Aadhaar numbers revealed that 77.81% were eligible for ABPS usage. In May 2023, approximately 88% of payments were made through ABPS, demonstrating its effective integration.
Ensuring Benefits for All
It’s important to note that workers ineligible for ABPS will not have their job card data deleted. The Ministry of Rural Development emphasized this point in a recent statement. Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh highlighted that around 1.13 crore MNREGA workers, constituting about 8% of active workers, are yet to receive Aadhaar-linked payments due to non-linked bank accounts.
Regional Progress and Future Endeavors
Certain regions, particularly in the North Eastern states, are currently lagging in adoption. In states like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, a considerable percentage of workers have not yet linked their accounts with Aadhaar numbers. Since 2017, the ABPS has played a pivotal role in MNREGA wage disbursement. The Ministry has encouraged states to conduct camps to ensure universal adoption of ABPS, promoting transparency and seamless payment distribution.