1.Rejected FTOs worth 55 lakhs resolved , restored and payment disbursed in Bagli
Bagli is block in Dewas district. The Social audit campaign was conducted in August 2016. It was reported at the level of Gram Sabha that payments for wages as well material was pending. It was taken up with the district administration. The Project Officer of the DISTRICT Archana was contacted and she confirmed that that the financial transaction orders ( FTO) worth Rs. 55 lakh were rejected and the district system operator accounts this rejection to some technical snag in the system/MIS. The Samarthan team tried to probe and resolve the issue locally with the district team, banks and district NREGS cell. However when the issue was not resolved locally, it was taken up with the NREGS commissioner as well as NREGS CELL-MIS division AT THE State. The social audit society was also pushed to highlight the issue. Later a video conferencing was undertaken by the secretary Rural Development on expediting the resolution of FTO rejection. The continuous follow up at the district and state resulted into serious follow up on rejected FTOs. Significantly it was found that several transactions were withheld initially as there was no money in the state NREGS account. However when the funds were disbursed it was late for processing the transaction request. It was found that several of the payments were rejected as the payment accounts were linked to ‘Adhar Id’, a condition currently prescribed by the state government , while several lakhs were rejected as the banks had put an incorrect IFC code on the transaction. The follow up resulted into resolution of the rejected payments. Currently the rejected balance in the block has reduced 5 lakh from the 55 lakh at the time of Social audit.
2.75 incomplete work for which completion certificate was issued on the portals were restarted and consequently completed in Bagli
During Social audit in Gram PANCHAYAT Barjahi in August 2015 brought out the grievance by the Panchayat body that a completion certificate ( CC) is flashing on the MIS portal for a work that is only 10% complete while only 5% total expenditure has been incurred. The issuance of the completion certificate on MIS portal ,debars any further expenditure on the particular work. Consequently the the road suppose o be built under NREGS is dug open and there are serious commuting problems for more than an year. The Sarpanch stated that several other Panchayats also are facing the similar problem.
Samarthan started investigating the problem of fake issuance of completion certificate. The discussions were held PROJECT OFFICER, and she confirmed that there 76 such works in the block for which completion is issued on the MIS portal , while the works are on different stage of completion. The MIS portal automatically locks any release of funds to the works that are shown completed on the portal.
The discussions were held with the district and state officials to resolve the issue. However both the parties maintained that other party has committed the wrong or there is technical snag at the portal, a common excuse quoted for all the problems and inefficiencies. As there was headway at the district level the problem was brought to the notice of the NREGS commissioner to intervene.
The commissioner intervened and asked them to report the issue on ‘UTTARA’ portal , a portal specifically designated for monitoring and addressing NREGS complaints. The district was not even aware of such portal. However they reported 30 INCOMPLETE cases on UTTARA. The rest of the cases were initially denied by the district administration, but later resolved on our pursuance. Some of the cases put on ‘Uttara portal’ needed fresh permission by divisional commissioner of the region for reversal of the status from a complete to incomplete work, therefore took greater time to resolve.
While 40 from the 76 cases have been resolved, and their status have been reverted and fund disbursement started, some of the cases are still being looked into. Consequently a fresh disbursement of about 30 lakh was made to restart these works. The works ranged from roads to , Anganwadi center, to -dug wells, Panchayat Bhavan etc.
3. 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.
4.Suspension and punitive action against Panchayat secretaries
Jan Sunvai was held in Nainpur block for the Social audits undertaken in 70 Panchayats of the block. Samarthan facilitated fact finding and building of records & data for the Jan Sunvai. The Jan Sunvai was attended by a large gathering including , media and government officials.
Several cases were heard by the jury and punitive actions like suspension and recovery of the forged amount was taken. It happened that most such punitive actions were taken on the Panchayat level secretaries. Consequently recoveries were made from the secretaries and some that did not pay back were suspended. However some of the cases were pushed under the carpet by taking bribe.
However as a reaction, the union of the Panchayat secretaries went on strike. There was pressure on the District CEO to withdraw the cases. Fortunately in this particular case the administration did not succumb to pressure and wherever the Gram Sabha had recommended serious actions and Jan Sunvai had found the officers guilty, the actions were taken . unfortunately some of the most corrupt secretaries have a got a stay from the court on the actions of administration.
5.Return of the Bribe by the Panchayat secretary
Mugdara is Panchayat in Nainpur bock of Mandla district. Social audit in the Panchayat was conducted 8th June 2015. It was reported in the special Gram Sabha that secretary of Panchayat demanded bribe for initiating work for individually targeted scheme. While some paid a bribe of Rs. 500 some paid as much as Rs. 15000 for getting a water well under the scheme. The Social audit in the village revealed this unscrupulous practise of the Gram –Panchayat secretary.
The Gram Sabha decided that all the bribes paid by the individual farmers be returned by the secretary in fifteen days’ time, otherwise a formal FIR will be lodged against him. The secretary returned the bribe he had taken from the scheme beneficiaries.
6.Incomplete structures made functional on decisions of Social Audit Gram Sabha
Bojpura Kalan Panchayat in Mandla district had commissioned sever dug dug wells under NREGS. The works were completed and completion certificate were issued. However these dug wells did not have water. The issue was raised during the social audit. It was found that the estimates were for each well was worth 3.25 lakh. The engineers that are supposed to certify the fitness of the structures did not ever to the site and have given the completion certificate without seeing the structures. Even the money spent on the structures was most of the time at least a lakh less than the estimated budget.
However in this case the expenditure quoted on the MIS was much higher than the actual expenditure, and what was known to the beneficiaries. The Gram Sabha decided that the wells should be deepened with the unspent funds circumvented by Panchayat/ site engineer. Five dug wells of the Panchayat were deepened and made functional after the social audit.
7.Missing toilets finally constructed after Social audit
Toilets were constructed in several Panchayats across the state by integrating Panchayat funds with the funds of Swacha Bharat MISSION . However missing or ghost toilets are not new. The SOCIAL Audit Campaign in Narainpur block in Mandla found that Panchayat had withdrawn the funds for toilet construction but neither constructed the toilet nor informed the beneficiaries. The Panchayat had simply eaten up the money fraudulently.
The physical verification of works during social audit brought out the issue that these toilets were never constructed. The case was particularly highlighted for five Panchayats, namely Jenwan, Dilhoti, Pala sunder, Dhatura, Pandurna. Approximately 60 toilets were missing in these five Panchayats and funds worth 6 lakhs was swindled between these Panchayats. The beneficiaries wanted either the money that was meant for their toilets or Panchayat to construct the toilets. The special social audit Gram Sabha decided that missing toilets should be constructed. The matter was taken up in the Jan Sunvai that followed the social audit campaign. Panchayat along with the engineer was found guilty. The CEO of the district issued a warning letter to Panchayat and demanded that that these toilets should be completed in listed five Panchayats in a months’ time.
The toilets were constructed subsequently.
8.Unfinished dug wells completed after social audit
Nayan Panchayat of Bajna Block in Ratlam district had social audits in June 2015. The construction for dug wells was commissioned in the farm land of Dheerji and Kalu under the individually targeted scheme of NREGS. However the wages were not paid to labourers for 15 days of work, and work had stopped consequently. The dug well lied unfinished , and the land was wasted too.
The issue of non-payment of wages was raised in the social audit of the Panchayat. The secretary informed that wages were not paid as their bank accounts were not verified and recognised by MIS of the portal. The secretary of the Panchayat was summoned to complete the process of verification of bank accounts and its registration on the MIS. The wages were paid subsequently and the digging of the well was started once again.
The wells have been completed now and both the beneficiaries have been able to increase the productivity of their farms.
Several such cases were also reported from several other Panchayats such as Imlipada, Devli, Chatara etc in the district and several dug wells were completed after social audit.
9.Pending instalments for rural housing scheme ‘Indira Aawas Yojna’ released
Community across Panchayats and districts stated that several ‘Indira Aawas scheme’ beneficiaries received only first instalment for the house construction. As most of beneficiaries had erased their old houses to construct new houses under the scheme, it was critical for beneficiaries that the new construction takes place fast. However a large number of beneficiaries received only 1st instalments, they borrowed money from informal money lenders at high rate of interest to complete the house while repeatedly asking the Panchayat to expedite the release of the subsequent instalment. Continued delay in the release has forced several of these benefices to do bonded labour for the money lenders.
Narsingh a beneficiary of the scheme had stated the same in the social audit Gram Sabha of Devli Panchayat in Bajna Block. In this particular case all the necessary formalities such as uploading of the ‘work progress/photograph’ etc. had been done while several in several other cases there were different types of problems including uploading of the correct documents. Narsingh’s case was taken up at the district level for the release of the instalments.
While Panchayat level actions such as uploading of the correct documents have been initiated in several Panchayats where these issues were highlighted in social audits, the same has also been taken up at district and state level.
An office order by the Rural development department has been issued to Panchayat to expedite the release of the second instalments for all the ‘Indira Aawas beneficiaries’
10.Construction of road in Dalit hamlets of Nayapura Panchayat in Berasia
A common finding across Panchayats has been that there been deviations in the site of construction from what has been sanctioned in the approved in the ‘provisioned technical sanctions’. Though formal technical approvals have been obtained for poor/Dalit/ Adivasi hamlets, the construction has taken place in upper class and caste mohallas , usually near the houses of influential families.
One such case came to light during the social audit in Berasia block of Bhopal. A road sanctioned for Dalit hamlet that connected the Anganwadi center to main service lane was shown as the constructed road in the MIS portal. The data was verified during the physical verification process of the social audit in the given Panchayat, however pointed that road has been constructed in the Brahmin dominated hamlet. The issue was raised in the social audit Gram Sabha and the community demanded either the construction of road or punitive action against all the concerned parties.
It was committed by the Panchayat that it will construct the road from its own funds in next six months
11. Panchayat secretary punished for swindling funds for poultry shed construction
Manpur Panchayat in Thandla Block of Jhabua district , seventeen beneficiaries was shown as beneficiaries for goat /poultry sheds under NREGS and had received funds totalling 3 lakh fifteen thousand. The social audits revealed that no such construction has taken place and none of the beneficiaries have received any money for the same. In fact none of the beneficiary was even aware of the same. The Panchayat and the secretary together had unscrupulously withdrawn money from their account and swindled the same in connivance with the engineer.
The Gram Sabha passed a resolution to take legal action against the Sarpanch, engineer and the secretary. The case has registered with SDM of the district.
12. Mason agrees to work at lower rates to complete a community well in NREGS
Mawati Is a Panchayat in Thandla block of Jhabua district in Madhya Pradesh. A community well was commissioned in the Panchayat under NREGS for providing drinking water to the community and the work started on the well. However the work was not completed and was left unfinished. The social audit in the Panchayat highlighted the issue in the Gram Sabha and Sarpanch was asked to explain.
It was then brought to the notice of the community that though he tried to complete the well ,but the skilled mason for the purpose is not available at the rate prescribed by the NREGS. A mason from the village was vouched that he goes to nearby Dahod town and gets Rs. 500 per day for masonry work. He or other masons will not agree to work for nearly half the rate in NREGS. Given the challenge The Panchayat and community requested this mason to work at lesser rate for the sake of community and his own village. The mason agreed on the persuasion of the Gram Sabha. The well was subsequently completed.
13.Water provided in Datia villages reeling under drought
Hamirpur is a small village in Dgrai Panchayat of Datia district. The delimitation process before the Urban Local Body election shifted the village to Datia town and the reversal took place again when the delimitation was undertaken for rural bodies. Consequently none of the local body felt ownership and responsibility for the village.
The piped water supply scheme in the village was lying defunct as the 44 feet long pipe was broken. Samarthan initiated campaign to improve access to water in the severe drought in the region in last summer in April to June -2016. The village was identified as severely water deficient , however the water bore for the piped water supply was checked and found to be able to generate water. Therefore repair of the pipeline could have done the needful. The Panchayat and community was mobilised to lodge a complaint with PHED to repair the pipeline, from the funds of Bundelkhand Package.
However the inertia in the department continued, and there was little response from the department. The response of the department forced the Panchayat to meet the member of the legislative assembly (MLA) for the region. He also exerted the pressure on the department.
The department yielded against the pressure of the MLA and released the funds for new pipeline while labour contribution for laying the pipes was provided by the community. The piped water supply was repaired and water was made available to the VILLAGE.
11 such piped water supply scheme were repaird in the district of Datia in the month of May 2016 under the campaign and nearly 100000 households benefitted from the water that was made available consequently.
14.Hand-pump repaired after engaging with local media
Agnora is a village in Datia district. The severe drought in the region had dried up all the hand pumps in the village and there was a severe situation forcing a large scale migration. Two-three hand pumps were sole sources of water, however despite them, the the situation was grave. One of the hand-pump had sufficient water but the pipeline had decayed and broken down. The hand-pump was not functional consequently despite the water in the bore the community did not access water due to problem in water pipe of the hand-pump.
The Bundelkhand campaign partner in the district started mobilising the Panchayat and community for the repair of the hand-pump , particularly as the village was completely parched. The president of the Panchayat informed that he had complained several times on the issue and even registered a complaint on the Chief Minister telephonic helpline . However there has been any outcomes so far.
The issue was brought to the notice of local media and the community was also taken for regular weekly Jan Sunvai in district collectors office. While collector heard the case, the media was highlighting the same in local newspaper.
The pressure building from both the sides yielded results. The collector intervened and directed the PHED department to repair the hand-pump.
15. Dug well construction in the drought provides needed cash and water in Pichor in Shivpuri district
Devri Panchayat like rest of the Bundelkhand was reeling under drought. The Panchayat president were making all out efforts to somehow provide the water. It was proposed by the community that a dug well can solve the problem, but it will be difficult to dig a well so fast and in this severe heat. Give the situation, it was proposed by the Panchayat that a well that could not be completed as delayed wages forced the Panchayat to stop the work, and this work can be restarted. The Panchayat assured that it will follow up the payment. However, there was paucity of funds in NREGS and the administration was not willing to re-start the work soon enough. Consequently MLA ( member of legislative assembly) was roped in to build pressure on the district administration. Finally the funds were released and the well was completed in the month of May. The construction and completion of dug-well provided water and much needed cash to the drought affected community in the village.
16. Levelling of a playground was undertaken under NREGS in Gram Panchayat Jamunia Khurd in Chindwara district of Madhya Pradesh.
A play ground was levelled under the scheme in the Panchayat . However levelling was done very poorly. The Social audit in Chindwara revealed that first the material for levelling was not laid and road rollers worked only for half a day. The payment however, was much more material and roller –days. The Gram Sabha objected to the bills. The resolution was passed that the secretary who has fraudulently siphoned off the money should redo the levelling work or formal complaint will be lodged against him. The secretary agreed to do the work.
17. Streamlining the functioning of PDS ( Public Distribution Shops)
The social audit in Kundai Panchayat in Chindwara revealed that that PDS coupons have been issued to Panchayats so long the new cards are made. The beneficiaries can access coupons from the Panchayat to get ration from the PDS shops at the subsidised rates. The coupons are supposed to be given free of cost to the targeted beneficiaries by the Panchayat. However, Panchayat secretary was asking for bribe for providing the coupons. He was also giving it to other non-mandated beneficiaries.
The issue was raised in the Social audit Gram Sabha and a complaint was lodged against the secretary. The secretary consequently begged to be pardoned this time and promised that he will never repeat the mistake. The functioning of the PDS shop was smoothened consequently.