Over 1.23cr ‘inactive’ job cards under MGNREGS cancelled in Bihar: Minister

Patna: The Bihar government has cancelled more than 1.2 crore “inactive” job cards under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in the last one year, a minister said on Monday.

The government has also provided 23.07 lakh fresh job cards to labourers, including 9,267 disabled people, in various districts of the state during the period, state Rural Development Minister Shrawan Kumar said.

“During a drive by the Bihar Rural Development Department (till April 30), a total of 1,23,13,927 job cards, out of 3,85,69,626, were found inactive for the last several years. In some cases, these were found fake or were not linked with provided Aadhaar numbers, or beneficiaries had died.

“We have cancelled all such cards after proper physical verification. Besides, cards of labourers who had earlier obtained MGNREGS jobs and migrated from the state have also been found inactive for the last several years, Kumar told PTI.

In fact, 33.04 lakh and 4.51 lakh job cards were cancelled in 2021-22 and 2020-21 respectively, he said, adding that in 2019-20, 2.25 lakhs were scrapped.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (MGNREGA) is aimed at enhancing the livelihood security of households in rural areas of the country by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year.

The maximum number of cancellations in the last one year have been reported from Vaishali (8,89,150), followed by Patna (7,55,308), Samastipur (6,30,654), Araria (6,14,530), Darbhanga (5,79,778), Aurangabad (2,20,330) and Begusarai (3,13,696), he said.

Under the scheme, the government had provided jobs to 1.26 crore cardholders in various parts of the state in the 2022-23 financial year, the minister said.

“The department has issued a total of 23.07 lakh fresh job cards to labourers in different districts of the state in the last one year.

“Besides, instructions have been given to officials concerned to provide employment under the scheme to job seekers within 15 days of their demand and penalty will be imposed on government officials concerned if they fail to comply with MGNREGA guidelines,” the minister said.

Reacting to the state government’s decision to cancel over 1.23 crore “inactive” rural job cards, Bihar BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said, “It is really surprising. These cardholders must have availed of benefits under the government scheme. The state administration has misused a huge amount of public money with the help of officials.” He also claimed it appeared that “these fake MGNREGS job cards were created and used by the Nitish Kumar-led government to siphon off the money for their own benefits”.

“After using these cards in the past, now they are cancelling to hide a scam. The Nitish Kumar government’s claim of zero tolerance on crime and corruption stands exposed,” he alleged.