SAU headless from last year, affects MGNREGA implementation

SAU headless from last year, affects MGNREGA implementation
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Srinagar: More than a year has been passed but government yet to appoint a full-time Director to the Social Audit Unit (SAU) in the Rural Development Department (RDD).
As an independent body, the SAU is mandated to carry out social audit reports against individuals or group of individuals found to embezzle funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
After repeated directions from the Government of India’s Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), the state government had in March 2017 set up a committee for selection of Director SAU for the effective implementation of MGNREGA.
While Chief Secretary was appointed chairperson of the committee, it had one member each from RDD, MRD and civil society.
“Even after more than a year, the committee has failed to appoint the Director SAU,” sources in the planning department told Kashmir Reader.
“Although a society (SAU) has been registered with the government of India, but we do not have a director,” they further said.
In absence of an effective SAU and a full-time director, a top official in the RDD said that there was a compromise on transparency in the department.
“There is nobody at the state-level to check the loopholes on ground,” he said.
Another official said that for the want of an independent SAU in the state, the fair dealings in the department were getting difficult.
“We are supposed to have an autonomous directorate with no interference from the department. The SAU would have a big impact on the output of the department by ensuring transparency, but unfortunately it is not so.” he said.
Declaring social audit “mandatory for the state to be eligible for release of funds”, the Empowered Committee of the Ministry of Rural Development for J&K had in 2016 directed the RDD to establish the SAU.
The RDD, as per the recommendations of the committee, was supposed to appoint a full-time Director and recruit core staff comprising State Resource Persons (SRPs) and District Resource Persons (DRPs) besides constituting Vigilance Monitoring Committees (VMCs)/Panchayat Audit Committees (PACs).
Regarding the progress of MGNREGA in the state, the MRD in June 2017, had again asked the RDD to establish an independent SAU to conduct quality social audits.
When contacted, Additional Sectary in Rural Development Department Rakash Badyal said: “After getting approval from government of India, we advertised the post but did not find any eligible person for this post.”
He said they have again advertised the director post. “Once we will receive appropriate applicant the problem will be solved,” he added.