MGNREGA clean-up leaves many jobless in Jharkhand

By Sanjoy Dey

Ranchi : Jharkhand’s bureaucrats have denied thousands of farm workers their legally mandated livelihoods under the guise of plugging leakages in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), say activists.

Earlier this month, HT reported that the ministry of rural development had cancelled 93 lakh MGNREGA job cards — of which 2.67 lakh cards were from Jharkhand — to weed out duplicates and cards corresponding to dead beneficiaries.

At the time, Union rural development secretary Amarjeet Sinha said the cards had been cancelled on the basis of a househouse survey. But activists say genuine beneficiaries were also struck off in the process in violation of MGNREGA regulations.

None of the cancelled cards were seeded with their Aadhaar numbers, said Binod Kumar of the Society for Promotion of Wasteland Development (SPWD), an NGO. “This could be a reason for deletion of their names,” he said. The mass cancellation could have been prompted by a desire to increase Aadhaar enrolment rates — a charge denied by local officials.

In a survey conducted last week, SPWD identified 80 people, across four panchayats of Latehar district, who had worked under the schemes in 2016-17 but whose names were removed from the beneficiaries’ list.

Sanichar Bhuiyan, 45, resident of Kuchila village in Latehar is a victim of the action. Bhuiyan, however, has no idea that his name was removed from the beneficiaries’ list. He said he worked in a water body renovation project in 2016-17. Similarly, Sanjay Ram, 25, from the same village, had worked on a road project in the village. Ram is also unaware that his name was removed from the list.

While MGNREGA guidelines state job cards can be cancelled only after consulting the relevant gram sabha, Sanjay Singh, the headman of Betla panchayat, said the procedure was not followed. “Neither the gram sabha nor I was told about the people removed from the list,” Singh said, “I have urged the block level MNREGA official to add the names of genuine beneficiaries.”

Source: Hindustan Times

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