Skip to main content

NREGA implementation: 'Unsatisfactory' social audit across States, Govt of India told

Counterview Desk 

The civil rights group, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, advocating proper implementation of India’s premier rural jobs guarantee scheme, has regretted that standards of social audits for implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which should be based on Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) directions, “are largely unsatisfactory”.
In a letter to Union rural development minister Giriraj Singh, with a copy to Nagendra Nath Sinha, secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, the Morcha said, Most Social Audit Units (SAUs) have stopped regular audits since April 2021.

Text:

NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM) is a people’s campaign for right to work with dignity and social security, a collective of rural people’s organisations, women’s organisations and workers’ unions. The campaign has deep grass-roots presence and work on NREGA on a day to day basis. We observe the programme closely across different States and advocate for improved and transparent implementation of the same.
We write to you to convey our observations on the status of social audits and put forward recommendations for executing Social Audits with letter and spirit, across the nation.
The norms based on which social audits of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) must take place are clearly determined in the auditing standards of social audit, as laid down by the Comptroller General of India. However, we have observed that the standards of audits and action taken on audit findings are largely unsatisfactory across states.
Our observations are as follows:
  1. Social Audit Units (SAUs) have been set up in all states of the country. However, The SAUs, in most states, are not independent, They do not have sufficient staff and have not been allocated adequate funds. In some states (e.g: Uttar Pradesh), the officials from the Programme Implementing Agencies (PIAs) are responsible for oversight and payments of local SAU cadres.
  2. The quality of audits vary widely across the states. Also, appropriate and timely follow up action has not been taken and uploaded on the website. It has been often observed that issues are being closed by PIA without any independent oversight.
  3. Most SAUs have stopped regular audits, since April 2021. A few SAUs have taken up concurrent audits but on a smaller scale. However, the findings of these concurrent audits are placed in the public domain as the Management Information System (MIS) has not been extended to accommodate the entry of concurrent audit data.
  4. All social audit reports are not hosted in the public domain. In FY 2019-20, while audits have been done in 51 percent of GPs, the audit findings have been disclosed in the public domain only for 37 per cent of the audits. Also, Action Taken Reports (ATRs) of the department that enlist the action taken on social audit findings are not disclosed in the public domain.
  5. Several media outlets have indicated heavy misappropriation in NREGA funds as reported by different SAUs in the last four years. However, our observations are that the volume of misappropriation is much more than what is reported in audits since audits are not regularly held, in most states each gram panchayat goes through the process of audit once in three years and in some states audits do not happen at all.
The NREGA Sangharsh Morcha therefore demands:
  • The Central Government should ensure provision of adequate funds to SAUs for social audits to take place as per calendar.
  • The Central government and State governments should ensure that all directors and staff of SAUs shall be appointed as per the auditing standards of social audit to ensure independence of the unit. The programme implementing agency should have absolutely no interference in the operations of the SAUs.
  • The Ministry should intervene to ensure that SAUs upload the social audit calendars in the public domain and social audits are executed as per the same. There is a need for independent oversight in this regard.
  • The Ministry should ensure that social audit reports are uploaded in the public domain within seven days of completion of social audit public hearing. The findings of the concurrent audits should also get uploaded on the website and the Centre should make mandatory provisions on the official website for the same.
  • The Central government should instruct and ensure that the State governments fill in ATRs on social audit findings within a period of 30 days, and the same is disclosed in the public domain. The Centre should have a stringent follow-up mechanism to ensure on-time action on irregularities.
We expect a quick action from your end on these issues to ensure that independent social audits are regularized in all states, findings are put in public domain and timely actions are ensured against each irregularity.

Comments

TRENDING

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".