in a bid to empower women in the rural areas, the Centre has decided to carry out a social audit of its flagship welfare schemes by them and they will also work as the nodal persons to resolve the complaints of the beneficiaries of these programmes, a top government official said on Wednesday.
In a social audit, the beneficiaries themselves assess the impact of government schemes and programmes by comparing official records with the actual ground situation, Amarjeet Sinha, Secretary, Rural Development, told PTI on the sidelines of the National Seminar on Social Audit of Rural Development Programmes.
Educated women in the rural areas associated with the self-help groups (SHGs) working under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) will check whether the welfare works were being carried out properly or not, he added.
The social audit started with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), but later the Rural Development Ministry extended it to all of its welfare schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) and the Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana (Rural).
"The idea is that these women, whom we usually call didi (elder sister), will check whether the work under the welfare schemes has properly been done or not, whether pensions have been received by elderly persons, whether beneficiaries got their houses built or not," Sinha said, suggesting that these women were better placed to check leakages in the schemes.
The women will be paid for conducting the social audit of the welfare schemes, he added.
Besides, to empower these women and make them stakeholders in a better implementation of the schemes in the rural areas, it was decided that they will also work as the nodal persons of these schemes for grievance redressal, Sinha said.
"They have been given the responsibility of working as the grievance redressal nodal persons, so that the complains and problems of the beneficiaries of these schemes in rural areas can easily be resolved," he added.
Currently, such a social audit is done for the MGNREGA, the rural housing programmes and also for funds allocated through the 14th Finance Commission, Sinha said, adding that it will now be extended to various welfare schemes of other ministries as well.
The ministry has finalised the auditing standards for the social audit with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), he informed.
The government, along with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Hyderabad, has also developed a short-term certificate course on social audits for district and block resource persons and SHGs, Sinha said.
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