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Locals assert rights at social audit hearing in North Garo Hills

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  25 Nov 2017 12:00 AM GMT

FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT

Tura, Nov 24: The people of Kharkutta block in Meghalaya’s North Garo Hills became part of a five-day unique pilot exercise of social audit to oversee implementation of the government schemes.

Through the audit, the public of the area made assertion of their rights and sought to take up corrective measures.

The social audit ended yesterday with a public hearing in three villages of Kharkutta block – Kharkutta Songgital, Chotcholja and Megam Akhong, which saw participation of beneficiaries, youth organisation and NGOs.

The pilot exercise was initiated in the block as per the mandate of Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act 2017, which was passed in the Assembly.

A Rajasthan based Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) – association for the empowerment of workers and peasants— with partnership of local bodies took up the task of empowering and educating the people and executive for the social audit process since November 16. MKSS is best known for their struggle and demand for legislation of Right to Information (RTI).

In the public hearing, the detail record of implementation of different schemes and project in the block including that of MGNREGA, SSA, Mid-Day Meal, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Agriculture, Horticulture, amongst others were read out loud by the auditing agency and the public were asked to take part in the discussion.

The public endorsed the decision by raising their hands and for failure of certain works in the villages the public decided to come up with their plea and made assertion of their rights.

The public including different stakeholders took active part in the public hearing and brought out their grievances before the visiting government officials of different departments.

At Kharkutta Songgital, the public took up the issue of mid day meal, which is served for three days in a week. The public demanded that it should be given for fivedays in a week. However, the employees engaged for cooking the mid-day meal said that if they are adequately paid than they could cook and serve the children.

“We are paid very low. So to meet our expenses we have to work as daily wage labour for our livelihood. It will be difficult for us to cook food for the children for entire week,” said a mother.

The issue of regular and better remuneration of the cooks was taken up, which was endorsed by the public. The public has decided to submit their plea to the department for better remuneration, so that they could cook the meal for the children for entire week.

The public also brought out the issue of Rs. 400 for two sets of school uniforms, which was given under the SSA, amongst other issues like PDS etc.

“We have learnt a lot from the exercise. It is good to hear from the public about their grievances on the implementation of schemes. We are confident that through social audit we will be able to get first hand information about implementation of a scheme as well as corrective measures needed to be taken to resolve problems faced by the beneficiaries,” said P. K. Boro, additiol deputy commissioner of North Garo Hills.

An exterl social audit expert Vineeth Bhambhu said people should be empowered with information so that they are able to assert their rights and ensure that the schemes are implemented in right earnest.

The public who took part in the social audit expressed their happiness that with such social audit they can express their grievances before the officials and ensure that problems are resolved.

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