More than half of the youth clubs which got funds worth crores of rupees from the Central government in last few years were non-existent, the Youth Affairs ministry has found.
The bungling has surfaced at the time when the government agreed for a joint Lokpal Bill committee following massive youth support to Anna Hazare to fight corruption.The government had allocated Rs 9,000 each as a special grant for conducting special activities to the three lakh registered youth clubs under the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS). Apart from it, the ministry gives up to Rs 50 crore every year to youth clubs to conduct different activities.
These clubs are the Central government's key arm to reach the masses in villages and the money was given for enrolling new members and widening scope of the clubs' activities. "These clubs were also required to conduct local sporting and cultural activities at the village level," a senior ministry official said.
On paper all looked fine till the ministry decided to find out the efficacy of the programmes being run by the sangathan through a national survey. To its dismay, it found that 1,75,000 clubs did not exist at the village level.
"The addresses of some of these clubs did not exist, its members had never participated in the youth club activity and most of them were running from rented accommodation," the official said. "The money gone waste may be a few hundred crore of rupees."
In a few states like Bihar, some youth clubs were registered at the properties of known criminals, which shut shop immediately after receiving money. The money was transferred into the accounts of the clubs, which in many cases have been found to be closed.
As the first corrective measure, Youth Affairs minister Ajay Maken said all details about youth clubs will be put up on the ministry's website and district offices for people to give us feedback. "Even telephone numbers of the youth clubs members and money given to them will be public domain," he said.
To revive some of the inactive clubs, the ministry has decided to designate 10,000 best clubs as mentor clubs, who would also be accountable for their activities and the money they receive. "There will be accountability at each level," Maken said.
Getting money from the Central government will become little more tedious. The ministry is also looking at the possibility of introducing bio-metric system for release of Rs 2,500 as monthly honorarium to youth volunteers in each district.
"We have also allocated a unique identification number to each club even before the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) can do it," said ministry's youth affairs in-charge and joint secretary Shailesh, who uses only by his first name.