The Central government has extended the deadline for enabling payment of wages for MGNREGA workers through the Aadhaar-based payment system (ABPS) till December 31.
The Centre had in February this year announced that MGNREGA workers will be paid wages on the basis of ABPS to prevent fake identities and irregularities in payments under the scheme. “The progress of Aadhaar-based Payment System (ABPS) has been reviewed and the mixed route of wage payment (NACH and ABPS route) has been extended till 31st December 2023 or till further order,” the rural development ministry said on Wednesday.
“It has been brought to the notice of the Central government that in many cases due to frequent changes in bank account numbers by the beneficiary and non-updating of the new account number by the concerned programme officer of the same, due to non-submission of new account by the beneficiary on time, several transactions of wage payment are being rejected (due to old account number) by destination bank branch,” the ministry said, while giving the reason for extending the deadline.
At the same time, it has made it clear to all the states that beneficiaries who come for work should be requested to provide an Aadhaar number, but will not be refused work on this basis. APBS is helping the genuine beneficiaries to get their due payment and is instrumental in curbing corruption by weeding out fake beneficiaries, official sources said. MGNREGA has not adopted Aadhaar-enabled payment, the ministry clarified, adding that the scheme has opted for ABPS.
If a beneficiary does not demand for work, in such a case her or his status about eligibility for APBS does not affect the demand for work. Job cards cannot be deleted on the basis that the worker is not eligible for APBS, the ministry clarified further. Out of the total 14.33 crore active beneficiaries, the Aadhaar has been seeded for 13.97 crore. Against these seeded Aadhaar, a total 13.34 crore Aadhaar have been authenticated and 81.89 per cent of active workers are now eligible for APBS.
In July 2023, about 88.51 per cent of wage payments had been made through APBS.