The names of 5.18 crore workers were deleted from the rolls of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in 2022-’23, Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The number of names deleted is 247% higher than that in 2021-’22.

The scheme guarantees 100 days of work for every rural household in the country and deletion of a worker from the rolls makes the person ineligible to work.

In January, the Narendra Modi government had made it mandatory to link MGNREGA job cards with Aadhaar cards. The deadline for implementation of Aadhaar-based payments has been extended for the fourth time to August 31 despite protests by workers and activists.

State governments trying to meet the deadline are resorting to removing names of workers whose records have discrepancies in the two databases, leading to a spike in such deletions, The Hindu reported.

In a question to the rural development ministry, Congress MPs Gaurav Gogoi and VK Sreekandan had asked if there had been a hike of 244.3% in deletions in the previous financial year as compared to 2021-’22.

In response, Singh said that MGNREGA job cards of 1,49,51,247 workers had been deleted in 2021-’22 while in 2022-’23 the figure was 5,18,91,168.

The minister said that the deletions were a “regular exercise” conducted by the state governments and not a result of a “system error” because of the use of technology.

“The various reasons for the deletion of job cards are: fake job card, duplicate job card, not willing to work, family shifted from gram panchayat permanently and single person in job card and the person is expired,” Singh said in a written response to the Lok Sabha.

According to the government data, West Bengal (83.36 lakh) reported the highest number of deletions in 2022-’23, followed by Andhra Pradesh (78.05 lakh), Odisha (77.78 lakh), Bihar (76.68 lakh) and Uttar Pradesh (62.98 lakh).

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