One of the most effective ways of countering corruption is to hold a Social Audit of all government projects. Social Audit is the auditing of Government projects by the Society. The easiest way to do so is by holding “Jansunwais”. Jansunwais are held by assembling people of a particular area and reading out to them all current and completed projects in their area over the last one year. People are then asked about the correctness of the claim. Local Government officials & contractors are forced to attend the meetings and answer questions. In case of disputes, the work site is visited and assessed. Similarly, records of government schools are analyzed for the mid –day meals and teachers attendance & records of fair price shops for rations issued.
The effects of these Jansunwais have been dramatic. In Delhi, contractors have refused to work in areas which are associated with Parivartan; pubic officials have accepted wrong doings and in a few instances bribes have been returned with apology. “Open House Meetings” conducted by the “Public Affairs Center” in Bangalore have significantly reduced corruption in the Bangalore Municipal Committee. Recently the Tamil Nadu government has appointed teams to hold Jansunwais in the costal belt to assess corruption in Tsunami relief work.
So far in India, these efforts have been localized, depending upon an NGO to take the initiative and fight against the system.
To institutionalize such a practice, a voluntary Uttarakhand Jan Nigrani Samiti could be formed by the State Government. Headed by an eminent personality, the Samiti could have 10 members; 3 ex-servicemen, 3 ladies and 3 other prominent active citizens of the state. The most important criterion for appointment should be that one should never have belonged to any political party. Once appointed this Samiti should appoint similar District Jan Nigrani Samiti for all the districts, which in turn could appoint Block Jan Nigrani Samitis, permeating down to Village Jan Nigrani Samitis and City Jan Nigrani Samitis. Membership in all should be voluntary and involve once in lifetime 5yr tenure. The State Level Samiti should have direct access to the Chief Minister. These Jan Nigrani Samitis should be provided copies of all proposed and current projects of their areas. The grass root level Samitis in villages / cities should hold Jansunwais with such information and visit the actual project site to satisfy themselves of the quality of work. They should be provided a copy of all bills submitted by the Contractors before payment is made.
An autonomous body is necessary to monitor the Government and reduce corruption in Uttarakhand. The formation of Uttarakhand Jan Nigrani Samiti would be the first step in right direction. But then, is anyone listening?
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