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Government starts mega drive to link NREGS a/c with Aadhaar

The government has started a drive to bring all active workers of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) under the Aadhaar framework to bring down duplication under the scheme and prevent leakage of funds.
The rural development ministry, in consultation with the department of financial services, will organise camps in villages to seek consent of the beneficiaries for seeding their bank accounts to their Aadhaar numbers.“Linking with Aadhaar will help us reduce leakages in the transfer of funds to the beneficiary’s account... The biometric verification ensures that money is reaching the right person,” a senior official told ET. Rural development ministry has roped in Indian Banks’ Association along with 13 private sector banks for the exercise. 
So far 50% of the 10.7 crore active workers under NREGS have linked their bank accounts with the 12-digit Aadhaar identity. “While we had gathered Aadhaar information of over 85% workers, banks want to receive the consent firsthand,” another senior rural development ministry official said. 
The camps, which began on July 25 , will be held till September 10 across the country. 
The government has issued the standard operating procedure to banks and NREGS officials for getting the consent forms from the beneficiaries during the camp. 
In a major clean-up exercise, government is simultaneously conducting an exercise to weed out bogus and invalid job cards under NREGS. 
Nearly 1.12 crore job cards have been deleted after they were found to be fake. Of these, over 10 lakh workers, no more interested in enrolling for the NREGS, have surrendered their job cards to the government. 
During April-July period so far, over 93.5 crore person days of work have been generated under the scheme with 86% payments made on time. 
Delay in payments is one of the major criticisms of the scheme. This year, the rural development ministry released Rs 23,443 crore — half the budgetary allocation under the scheme — to states in April to ensure there was adequate flow of funds and to avoid delays. 
The remaining amount is expected to be released to the states in September after the submission of a detailed audit report. The ministry has also been asked to upscale the National Electronic Fund Management System for direct fund transfers to beneficiaries’ accounts to all states. 
The Economic Times, New Delhi, 26th July 2017


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