Sunday, December 29, 2013

Visit for Social Audit of NREGS - 2

What is a social audit? It is better to have an idea of the concept in the first place. Social_Audit_Report is uploaded in the NREGS website. But almost all of the community seems to be completely unaware of documentation part. Best part of these meetings is the opportunity to meet office bearers and government officials on same day.

When government makes schedule for social audit in October, it reviews work done/in progress from April to September months. SA was originally scheduled in October but due to cyclone, it was completed in December. Advertisements were given in three Oriya newspaper giving dates and location of the social audit meeting. Local NGO was invited to attend the meetings but no provision of fund was available for community mobilisation through local NGO. This was all done when Gram Rozgar Sevak (GRS) [working personnels for NREGS at Village level] were gone on strike. Their online petition is worth a read on the problem faced at implementation level.

Verification of Documents, Grievance Submitted and Issues Raised were tackled in the meeting with sincerity. Whatever issues were raised and action was taken on them.  Normal complain was wrong account number given by beneficiaries of bank accounts. One person complained having no job card. He later told that he was migrant and belong to well to do family. Since, this card is one more government paperwork done free, he was eager to get in hope of anticipated benefits. Ensuring faster wage payment to beneficiaries under MGNREGS is the process lacuna. Payment within 15 days deadline is sometime stretched to full month that came in limelight.

According to the guidelines of MGNREGA, a Gram Sabha is held the prime institution of planning and execution of MGNREGA. So much in writing but activities of Vigilance and Monitoring Committees (VMCs) at Panchayat level is in hibernation all over Odisha. NREGS work for purposes like common grazing and livelihood are not taken much in thought. NREGS website is great. But even the BPL (as per 1997 census in Odisha) doesn't seem rightly feeded in that. I have highlighted with red circle in the picture above and brought to the notice of concerned authority.

There is no convergence that household has taken benefit from which scheme like IAY/RSBY of the government.  Even demand generation suffers due to lack of initiative of community. As per government official, not much work can be generated if a lot has been already done in previous years. There is a limit of demand that can be achieved under guidelines of NREGS. The demand scheme has been converted into target scheme by the officers under pressure from the government to show numbers.  That was the most important lesson came out in this exercise.

 Social Audit has merely reduced as excercise for checking numbers, as rarely people complained about quality of work and let accountable pay for corruption. Even mighty monitoring tool like social audit can become grievance redress mechanism only in the hands of dull community. Social audit may have helped in awareness generation but a lot of work need to be done for community engagement.

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