NEW DELHI :
In a move to empower women in the rural areas, the rural development ministry has decided to authorise those belonging to self-help groups (SHGs) to carry out a social audit of its flagship welfare schemes, a senior government official said on Wednesday. The women will also work as the point persons to resolve the complaints of beneficiaries of these programmes, rural development secretary Amarjeet Sinha said.
Educated women in the rural areas associated with the self-help groups (SHGs) working under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) will be empowered to check whether the welfare works were being implemented properly, he said. The rural development ministry has finalised the auditing standards for the social audit with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), Sinha said. The government, along with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Hyderabad, has also developed a short-term certificate course on social audits for district and block resource persons and SHGs, Sinha said.
The social audit started with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), but later the rural development ministry extended it to all of its welfare schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) and the Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana (Rural).
"The idea is that these women will check whether the work under the welfare schemes has properly been done or not, whether pensions have been received by elderly persons, whether beneficiaries got their houses built or not," Sinha said. These women were better placed to check leakages in the system and ensure that the social audits took place as required, he said. Those recruited for the social audit would also be paid remuneration, he said. The move makes them stakeholders in a better implementation of the governments’ welfare schemes in the rural areas, Sinha said.
Since taking office in 2014, the Narendra Modi government has taken several measures to plug leakages of government funds meant for the poor. One of the measures that has been implemented is the direct transfer of benefits to the bank accounts of the entitled.
According to Sinha, the women working for the social audit programmes will also be given the responsibility of working as the nodal person for grievance redressal so that the complaints and problems of the beneficiaries of these schemes in rural areas can easily be resolved.