Punjab has witnessed a 385% surge in identification and cancellation of fake job cards under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in the last two fiscal years.
The state contributes to over 71% of such identified fraudulent cards in the region under the demand-driven wage employment scheme aimed at enhancing the livelihood security of rural households.
In Punjab, a total of 4,605 job cards were identified as fraudulent under MGNREGS — 787 in 2021-22 and 3,818 in 2022-23 — and subsequently removed. Neighbouring Haryana reported 170 fake cards in 2021-22 and 129 in the subsequent year. In Himachal Pradesh, 170 fraudulent job cards were uncovered and cancelled in 2021-22, with the number rose to 585 in 2022-23, as per data shared by the Union minister of rural development in Rajya Sabha in response to a question by Adhikari Deepak of Trinamool Congress.
The ministry clarified that deletion and updating of job cards was an ongoing process, conducted regularly by states. According to Section 25 of the MGNREGS Act, individuals found violating the provisions of the law could face a fine of up to Rs 1,000 upon conviction. Additionally, Aadhaar seeding has been mandated to facilitate de-duplication of beneficiaries’ database, aiming to prevent the issuance of fake job cards.
Under the scheme, which ensures that every household whose adult members willingly engage in unskilled manual work receives a guaranteed 100 days of wage employment in each financial year, Punjab issued 85,775 new job cards to households in 2022-23, compared to 67,912 in 2021-22. In Haryana, 37,948 cards were issued in 2022-23, a decrease from 73,701 in 2021-22. In Himachal Pradesh, 35,241 new cards were issued in 2022-23, with 87,572 issued in the preceding year.
Punjab received funds amounting to Rs 1,18,213.27 lakh in 2022-23 and Rs 1,25,759.36 lakh in 2021-22 under the scheme. Similarly, Haryana received a grant of Rs 37,398.62 lakh and Rs 72,267.99 lakh in 2022-23 and 2021-22, respectively. Himachal Pradesh was allocated Rs 1,15,747.62 lakh in 2022-23 and Rs 97,575.08 lakh in 2021-22.

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