Where did the money go?

by Khabar Lahariya
Banda district, Uttar Pradesh

Mahari, her son, and her daughter had been awaiting payments from NREGA for six months.

“The Pradhan and Panchayat Mitra say, ‘the government has not yet released the money, how can we distribute your payments?'” said Mahari. Many echoed her statement.

But what we found out from the Panchayat Mitra, Dharmendra Kumar, was that delayed payments were not the only cause. “Earlier, the cheque would arrive at the bank from Lucknow, and the money would get distributed according to each person’s share of earnings. Now it is different. The money sometimes goes into the Aadhaar cards and sometimes into their SIM cards.” By SIM cards, he means their ‘Airtel Payments Bank’, a digital wallet that NREGA workers often unknowingly make their default payments account, when linking SIM cards with Aadhar.

Ever since Aadhar cards have been linked with SIM cards (digital wallets), NREGA payments, and bank accounts, one can never be sure of where the money goes. In Bambiya village, people are not even aware of how to retrieve the money if it goes to their Airtel Payments Bank.

When asked about this, Kumar said, “There’s a code which tells you where the money has gone. And if the money has gone to their phone, they will get the cash from Banda town, not here.”

“Only the educated can understand this enough to seek out their wages from the right sources. What about, say, an illiterate woman?” our reporter asked him.

To this his response was simply, “They should take someone along then.”

Khabar Lahariya is India’s only grassroots, feminist news and media platform, run by an all-women team of reporters, editors, and media practitioners reporting on media-dark geographies of the north Indian hinterland.

Read next

View next

Follow us
Get smart. Sign up for our free weekly newsletter, IDR Edit.

IDR is India’s first independent media platform for the development community.

We publish cutting edge ideas, lessons and insights, written by and for the people working on some of India’s toughest problems. Our job is to make things simple and relevant, so you can do more of what you do, better.

IDR is produced in partnership with Ashoka University’s Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy.

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact
© 2020 India Development Review    
India Development Review is published by the Forum for Knowledge and Social Impact, a not-for-profit company registered under Section 8 of the Company Act, 2013.
CIN: U93090MH2017NPL296634