Govt to revamp system for monitoring NGOs
The social justice ministry has reshuffled 30 key officials and is revamping the system of monitoring non-government organisations (NGOs) that receive financial grants by introducing social audits after surprise inspections threw up evidence of misuse of public funds by entities claiming to be working for the benefit of the underprivileged, senior citizens and drug addicts.
According to an order issued by the ministry on Monday, accessed by Hindustan Times, the officials up to the rank of undersecretary have been transferred from their positions. Most of them dealt were in departments that provided support and monitored the work of NGOs that claimed to be providing free coaching to poor students, working for the welfare of senior citizens and upliftment of weaker sections.
The move came days after surprise checks by senior government officials, aided by recent graduates of institutions like Delhi University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Indian Institutes of Technology, produced evidence of vast discrepancies between the claims of many organizations that received substantial government grants.
Based on these checks, the ministry has initiated the process of blacklisting around 150 such organizations. A senior government official, who didn’t want to be named, confirmed that the bureaucratic reshuffle in the social justice ministry was linked to the inspections, which showed that public funds were often not reaching the intended beneficiaries.
Nearly 130 or 19 % of the 700 organizations surveyed in the exercise were either non-functional, had violated regulatory norms, did not maintain records or simply could not justify the government grants they sought or had received.
A drug de-addiction centres in Sangareddy district of Telangana didn’t keep a record of visits by doctors. Local residents had no idea of the services provided by the centre.Another organization in Mahisagar in Gujarat had received a grant, but hadn’t started any work; it was yet to decide on the location of the centre it wanted to set up.Many organizations were found to be charging high fees for their services.
An organization that claimed to run a residential school was found to have only three rooms for accommodating 100 students. In Chamba in Himachal Pradesh, a senior citizens’ home had only two inmates at the time of inspection.
On average, each of these institutions received grants of Rs 25 lakh a year.
R Subrahmanyam, secretary to the ministry of social justice, confirmed that the ministry was now working on a tighter monitoring system. It is in line with the government’s focus on greater transparency and accountability, the top social justice ministry official said.
Social audit units of the rural development ministry will be requested to create a social justice cell. The services of these trained auditors will be used at the district levels for up to six days a month to ensure the money NGOs receive from the ministry isn’t being misused.
Auditors of the social justice cell would be trained by the National Institute of Social Defence (NISD). The social justice ministry is planning a pilot project in five states: -- Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya and Maharashtra. A Social Audit Advisory Body (SAAB) will be set up to guide these projects