Attendance Through App Mandatory for MGNREGS Workers; New Move to Plug Pilferage

In a big move to check transparency, the Centre has made it mandatory from May 16 that the attendance of workers under the MGNREGS be captured through a mobile application with time-stamped and geo-tagged photographs rather than the attendance marked in registers.

There are nearly 15 crore active workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). The latest development is expected to check any leakage in the programme and bring in more transparency. Nearly Rs 73,000 crore were allotted for the programme in the 2022-23 Union Budget.

“It has been decided to discontinue the manual attendance for all the worksite wherein muster rolls are issued for 20 or more beneficiaries. From May 16, 2022, for all the worksite wherein muster rolls are issued for 20 or more beneficiaries, the attendance will be captured only through the National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS) app,” the Centre had said in the letter written to state governments on May 13.

The Centre said the App involves taking two time-stamped and geo-tagged photographs of the workers in a day “which increases citizen oversight of the programme besides potentially enabling processing of payments faster.” This is also expected to stop any bogus attendance of workers though fake entries in physical registers and ensure only genuine ones on the job get paid and the attendance is captured in real-time. There were also concerns that the physical register system can be manipulated, which could lead to pilferage of MGNREGS funds. Many states had also flagged the loophole to the Centre, which pushed the creation of the App.

The NMMS App was rolled out by the Centre on May 21, 2021 but at the request of states and Union Territories, the utilisation of the App had been kept voluntary so far though the states were asked to progressively start using the App frequently, the Centre’s letter says. It further said the experience of the application was reviewed at a top-level meeting with states on March 22 this year and based on that consultation, it has been decided to make the NMMS App mandatory now.

Some states have flagged to the Centre that there have been cases where workers were paid but no work was done or workers were marked absent due to the manual attendance system.

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