This refers to the article “NREGA audit: Bhilwara shows the way (Oct. 17).” When millions of rupees are spent every year with budgetary allocation from public exchequer for NREGA to promise employment to the landless and other rural folk, the article explores the other side of the coin with loopholes in the Act for misappropriation of funds in different ways, with muster rolls on fictitious persons and deploying heavy machineries defeating the very the objectives of this scheme and manipulation of records to generate mandays for payment of wages. The apprehensions raised in the article that the primary objectives of the scheme would be vitiated if corporates are allowed to come in seem to be genuine. It is a pity that the noble schemes to benefit the rural people are also not spared by the implementing authorities and the wages are swindled.
The efforts of the District Collector of Bhilwara in Rajasthan and the Director of Social Audit in the form of surprise visits leading to unearthing a massive scandal need to be appreciated. The article throws light on the apparent drawbacks in the scheme that need to be addressed immediately.
R. Murali Kumar, Srirangam
Hats off to “Team Bilwara” for pioneering such an audit process in India. By getting together civil right activists and government officials into a single team, it has accomplished the impossible. Such actions call for an extreme degree of commitment and courage, since the financial stakes are huge and the recipients of the siphoned money, often ruthless. The citizens involved in the non-remunerative and painstaking exercise, deserve the highest degree of praise and accolades.
One hopes that more Aruna Roys and Nikhil Deys, more Manju Rajpals and Rajendar Bhanawats emerge in other districts to form vigilance squads, to ensure that NREGA lives up to its expectations. For a country steeped in corruption, the Bilwara audit is an eye-opener.
Sunil P. Shenoy, Mangalore
Bhilwara experiment has brought out the fact that an effective social audit is needed to ensure proper implementation of government welfare schemes. All State governments would do well to co-opt the services of voluntary organisations to conduct such audits. Unfortunately, all government welfare schemes are implemented in terms of budgetary allotments without verifying whether benefits reach the target groups.
The concept of social audit should be applied to all government welfare schemes so that leakage of funds, entrenched vested interests and bureaucratic approach do not vitiate their implementation.
B. Premananda Bhat, Manipal