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Panchayat’s authority restored after Social Audits in Berasia
Social Audits in the Barasia block of Bhopal district-Madhya Pradesh was conducted in Feb- 2016. It was observed that there was rampant use of machines and mass corruption in the implementation of the NREGS in the block , which was also one of the block of the state capital. After the social audit campaign was over , a workshop was called at Bhopal by Samarthan where different related stakeholders like Panchayat presidents, secretaries , district and block executive , state MIS officers and chief engineer of the NREGS department. A brainstorming session was collectively undertaken to understand the source and roots of the corruption in NREGS and what systemic interventions can be undertaken.
It was observed that a large of the corruption was forced by the block officials by circumventing the stated laid procedures and by ignoring the authorities of the Gram Panchayat. Such as not letting the Panchayats to use their ID to enter the MIS on their own and therefore not be able to start the work when there is demand for wages, or forcing the Panchayat to get the e- muster rolls to block for entries so that entries can be manipulated. These practices increased the total billing for the work and increased the expenditures incurred by individuals as they commuted several times to district office and bribed a large number of officials for letting the entries be made to the portals for which the IDs are allotted to Gram Panchayats.
The social audits revealed that more than 50% expenditures present on the NREGS portals were fake for the particular block. It was also seen that all the beneficiary targeted schemes were grabbed by the rich farmers instead of the mandated beneficiaries.
The issue was taken up with the NREGS commissioner. The office orders were again released for not sabotaging the powers of Gram Panchayat. Consequently the block officials were hauled up and threatened with the punitive actions if they don’t mend their ways. Office orders were also issued to take up works that have less chances of use of machines like dug wells.
The reversal of practice was initiated, though the impact was temporary and the practices reverted back in two months’ time. The follow up is on with the state department.