Rajasthan sets example with social audit of all Covid-19 programmes

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday decided to get a social audit of Covid-19 welfare programmes done with the help of non-government organisations, a first for the country.

After getting suggestions from social activists, Gehlot announced that social audit of relief work undertaken during the pandemic would be conducted through a government organisation having social workers as its members. “A governing body will be constituted soon for social auditing and social workers will also be nominated in it,” he said.

During the pandemic, especially during the lockdown, the Rajasthan government took initiatives to help the needy through schemes such as Rs 3,500 one-time financial assistance to meet daily requirements, paid in three instalments; free ration to the needy and social security pension among other measures.

Welcoming the decision, social activist Nikhil Dey said Rajasthan is the first state in the country to announce the holding of a social audit of all relief work done during Covid-19. However, states such as Telangana and Jharkhand, too, have done a concurrent social audit of some schemes, mainly related to MNREGA but Rajasthan decision for an overall audit to bring transparency in public spending sets a good example.

Dey said Rajasthan was a pioneer in conducting social audits and has a directorate which wasn’t working as per the protocol of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) directions. He claimed that Gehlot has now announced provision for a governing council within the directorate.

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“We hope Rajasthan will once again take the lead in conducting social audits in the country. We hope that all Covid expenditure done anywhere in the country including through the PM Cares fund will be subject to a social audit,” he said.

Addressing a national level webinar on the Right to Information Act (RTI), Gehlot said the appointment of chief information commissioner (CIC) and other information commissioners will be done in the next one month in the state.

“The entire process of appointing the commissioners and obtaining information through RTI applications will be made online by December 31,” he said.

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Social activist and RTI proponent, Aruna Roy, suggested for a transparency policy for ensuring accountability in governance. She said that public information portal is an important medium of people’s communication with the government, and to maintain its system, an advisory group or council should be formed at the state level. Dey added that there should be a law for accountability of public servants and pointed out that if Rajasthan implements the law, it would be the first state in the country to do so.

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