Govt takes serious note; directs ACDs, BDOs to act promptly, submit ATRs

Social Audit recovery performance minimal in J&K

*Non compliance will lead to deductions from salaries
Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Feb 12: Taking serious note of minimal social audit recovery in majority of the districts of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Government has directed the Additional District Programme Coordinators/ Assistant Commissioners of Development and Block Development Officers to act promptly and make recoveries failing which deductions shall be made from their salaries.
The Section 17 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) mandates social audit of all the works executed under the scheme. However, during the review meeting of the scheme held recently it came to the fore that despite lapse of considerable time, social audit recovery performance is minimal in respect of the majority of the districts of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
Taking serious note of this, the Commissioner/Secretary to the Government, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Mandeep Kaur has ordered that all concerned Additional District Programme Coordinators/ACDs and Block Development Officers should upload Action Taken Reports on all observations raised by the Social Audit Unit since financial year 2019-20 till date.
“The Social Audit Unit to decide all cases on which Action Taken Reports have been uploaded and are pending at their level and subsequently the concerned BDOs to recover the finally decided recoverable amount as reported by the Social Audit Unit under MGNREGA on priority and get the amount deposited in State Nodal Account of State Employment Guarantee Fund”, the Administrative Secretary has told the officers.
She has made it clear that if any officer/BDO fails to do so, the same amount shall be recovered out of their salaries of this month besides making entry to such extent in their service books.
The Director Social Audit has been directed to ensure that cases where ATRs have been uploaded and are pending at the level of Social Audit Unit are decided on most immediate basis. The Additional District Programme Coordinators have been appointed as Nodal Officers for personally monitoring the progress of Social Audit Recovery with the direction to submit compliance report to the Administrative Department.
As per the official data, the Social Audit Unit has conducted audit of MGNREGA works in 1695 Panchayats across Jammu and Kashmir and has reported misappropriation of funds in 352 cases. Accordingly, the Social Audit Unit has recommended recovery of Rs 59.85 lakh.
The maximum number of cases have been reported in respect of Block Nagrota (21) followed by Bhalla Block of Doda (17), Changa Block of Doda, Gulabgarh Block of Reasi and Kulgam Block (16 cases each), Arnas Block of Reasi (13) and Devsar Block of Kulgam (12).
“The social audit is a process of reviewing official records and determining whether state reported expenditures reflect the actual monies spent on the ground as such action is required to be taken by making recoveries. This step will give a loud and clear message that bungling in the implementing of scheme will not be tolerated”, sources said.
They further said that since Government is planning to complete highest number of works under MGNREGA by looking after the priorities of each village ensuring utmost transparency is imperative. Even Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta has already advised the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj to carry out the social audit of every work and compare with other States/UTs and take appropriate measures to address those issues pointed out by audit.
It is pertinent to mention here that as per the provisions of Section 17 of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, the Gram Sabha is required to monitor the execution of works within the Gram Panchayat; conduct regular social audits of all the projects under the Scheme taken up within the Gram Panchayat and Gram Panchayat is required to make available all relevant documents including the muster rolls, bills, vouchers, measurement books, copies of sanction orders and other connected books of account and papers to the Gram Sabha for the purpose of conducting the social audit.