Staff Reporter

NGO educating beneficiaries about their rights and privileges

Young India is responsible for conducting social audit in 20 of the 40 mandals

In 18 mandals, small frauds were exposed, ranging from Rs. 2,000 to 20,000

Anantapur: In the context of news reports of embezzlement of funds of National Rural Employment Guarantee Assurance (NREGA) programme coming out in different parts of the State and country, Young India Project (YIP) founded by Narinder Bedi is engaged in creating awareness among the beneficiaries of the scheme instead of fighting the powerful political forces indulging in massive frauds and defeating the very purpose for which it was launched.

‘Young India’, an Anantapur-based NGO, is now working with the government in creating awareness among the beneficiaries by organising the NREGA groups into unions and educating them on their rights and privileges as beneficiaries of the scheme. The district administration has involved the NGO in the programme which is supposed to be a pioneer in organising the beneficiaries into unions and in effectively tackling and checking frauds through social audits. Young India is responsible for conducting social audit in 20 of the 40 mandals. In 18 mandals, small frauds were exposed, anywhere from Rs. 2,000 to 20,000. These frauds were committed by field assistants, technical assistants and other NREGA appointed staff. In the public meeting they were confronted with evidence of their fraud.

The NGO’sprogramme was instrumental in extracting public commitment on returning the embezzled funds.

Fraud discovered

In a mandal called Gudibanda, highest expenditure had been recorded in a period of six months: Rs. 1 crore or more. When the audit went into the receipts and account documents, evidence of fraud emerged. The social auditors, inclusive of YIP participants, were threatened. A woman deputed as in-charge of Gudibanda social audit was threatened and had to be withdrawn from the mandal.

In September 2006 K. Raju, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh requested YIP to organise the very first social audit for six months of work in Andhra Pradesh. A network of 24 NGOs was formed to undertake social audit in the mandals of Anantapur district. Mr. Bedi told ‘The Hindu’ that wherever sarpanches are involved in implementing NREGA, the probability of fraud is high. The NREGA should be de-politicised and the beneficiaries should be educated on their rights and organised into unions. The beneficiaries should not sell their privileges like job cards etc, which is only a self defeating exercise.