Length of the Last Mile: Delays and Hurdles in NREGA Wage Payments
This report by LibTech India documents aspects of last mile delivery of NREGA wages in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan
CSP/BCs appeared to be a convenient alternative to transacting at the bank due to their proximity. However, an estimated 40 percent of them had to make multiple visits to withdraw from CSPs/BCs due to biometric failures. CSP/BCs don’t have passbook updating facilities. In comparison, people with postal accounts in AP had their passbooks updated for every transaction. While a significant proportion in AP got receipts for withdrawals at CSPs/BCs, those in JH and RJ were rarely provided receipts. Lack of any accountability framework for CSPs/BCs means that some workers get charged for transacting there which is meant to be free. This was highest in JH where 45% of the users were charged. Qualitative research indicated that workers have faith in banks as a more robust institution.
Aadhaar based payments and centralisation has meant that workers sometimes have little clue regarding where theirwages have been credited and what to do when their payments get rejected. We paid close attention to workers whose payments got rejected. Rejected payments are akin to bounced cheques that happen due to technical reasons such as incorrect account numbers and incorrect Aadhaar mapping with bank accounts. Workers do not get these wages unless the underlying problems are rectified. According to official figures, as of July 2020, in the last five years, about Rs. 4,800 crore worth of payments were rejected nationally and about Rs.1,274 crore worth is still pending to be paid to workers.
Interested in joining PULSE for Development? Register here.