Under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) around 2,000 workers in Orissa have been collecting their wages from their local post offices using smart cards in the past two months.
Launched on December 1st 2008 at Baunspal in Orissa's Dhenkanal district, the project piloted by the Department of Posts, with the active involvement of Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Jyotiraditya Scindia, will very soon cover around 25 villages and service 6,000 workers under NREGS.
With the Rural Development ministry already having instructed states to make payments under NREGS through banks or post offices, the number of accounts opened under NREGS with post offices has already crossed the two crore mark. As on December 31, 2008, post offices across the country had disbursed INR 3,422 crore under NREGS.
Using a combination of equipment like a mobile handset, a Near Frequency Communication Reader, a thermal printer and a smart card, the way the system works is simple. First, a worker enrolled under NREGS, and having a valid job-card, has to approach the branch-office level post office in his area to get a savings account opened. Once done, the worker will get a smart card having all his job card details.
On their part, the state governments have to ensure that the NREGS Mandal Computer Centre uploads all the NREGS transactions, including payorder of all the muster rolls to its data servers. For the ongoing pilot project in Orissa, BSNL is providing the connectivity via mobile phones while NIC is maintaining the servers.