For 40-year-old Sivagami Vellayan of in Karumanthangudi village in Tamil Nadu’s Sivagangai district, working at the coconut husk crushing factory for six days a week was not enough. She earned ₹200 a day that was barely enough to meet her needs. To add to that, the job was seasonal and not available during winters and monsoon. While she cultivated paddy in her 1.5-acre land, her alternative was MGNREGA, which assured 100 days of work a year at ₹224 a day.
As per records, she had worked on a check-dam project in her village under the scheme for 44 days in 2018-19. However, a social audit, done under the MGNREGA scheme, revealed that she had been paid ₹1120 for five days of work in December 2018, though she did not actually work for the given period.
However, Sivagami told The Federal that the panchayat officials came to her, offered upfront payment if she gave her job card and returned the card after a week. The village authorities would then show that Sivagami worked on a specific project.
And once the payment was credited to her bank account — which is done as per the government’s direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme to end corruption — the officials would come asking for the money back. She admitted that she returned the money twice, but later denied them the money as she was aware that they were siphoning money through her account.
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