May 9th 2006
From the experience drawn from Valota Panchayat, Jan Chetna Sansthan planned to conduct a social audit in Abu Road and Girvar Panchayat was selected for this purpose.
This decision followed a social audit of around Rs 11 lakh worth of public development works in Girwar Panchayat, Abu Road block, Sirohi district today which uncovered many irregularities concerning wage payments made to labourers on various works, both in the form of cash and wheat, besides other forms of fraud. According to the evidence presented by the villagers themselves, 6977 kilograms of wheat that was rightfully theirs in the form of wages has simply not reached them.
At the end of this exercise, which is one of the first to be held since the passage of the Right to Information Act 2005, the Abhiyan resolved to strongly oppose the Centre�s move to notify a uniform wage of Rs 60 for all states under the EGS. It decided to demand that the �task� prescribed under the EGS in order to earn the daily wage be reduced. It was also decided that a demand for part-payment of wages in grain under the EGS would be put across. With this, the Abhiyan carried forth the spirit of the recently held mass public monitoring initiative held recently in Dungarpur.
The Girwar social audit was organized by a local non-governmental organization Jan Chetna Sansthan (JCS) in liaison with Center for Equity Studies (CES), Jaipur, with support from National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad. Residents of the village, along with members of JCS had applied and obtained the records � muster rolls, bills, vouchers and sanctions – pertaining to 17 development works under various schemes undertaken in 2004-05 and 2005-06 using the Right to Information Act 2005. After a door-to door verification process in the last few days, a public hearing took place on May 9th 2006 attended by hundreds of residents from Girwar Panchayat and as many as 18 neighbouring Panchayats besides many representatives of organizations from the state and outside.
Labourers who had worked in a middle school building in Girwar testified to the fact that the entire work had been done through contractors. The contractors had brought labourers from outside the Panchayat. Moreover, many women came forward and asserted that they got paid only Rs 40 as daily wage, compared to Rs 50-60 for men, which is in any case much lower than the minimum wage of RS 73. Similarly, labourers testified that a �Sarvajanik Chabutra Nirmaan� in Pisra Phali under the SGRY scheme was also done through contractors.
Huge irregularities came to light concerning payments made in the form of wheat and fudging of muster rolls. In works, which were given on contract, labourers had not received any wheat at all. In the same chabutra nirmaan, Pisra Phali and in a watershed work in Dundai Phali, women workers stated that they had got coupons but the stock register which the ration dealer was asked to bring to the public hearing clearly showed that someone else had lifted the grain. Cases of workers who had gone to work but their names were not there on the muster rolls were also presented.
Instances of the Sarpanch offering to build houses on behalf of Indira Awas Yojna beneficiaries and giving such work on contract to his people also came to light. Harish Ramu of Girwar testified that he had received only 4 boris of wheat when he actually should have got 21 boris under this scheme.
The findings of the social audit were presented in front of a panel which included social activist and member National Campaign for People�s Right to Information (NCPRI) Aruna Roy of MKSS, S.K. Mittal, District Collector, Sirohi, Ramesh Nandwana of Jungle Jamin Aandolan, P.L.Meemrot of Dalit Adhikar Kendra, Ashok Singh of Indo-Global Service Society, Bhanwar Singh Chandana of Astha Udaipur, ACEO, Sirohi district Ramniwas Jat, Pradhan and BDO of Abu Road block and Bhimaram sarpanch of Girwar Panchayat. Damodaran Kuppuswamy of Action Aid Delhi and P.C Jain of Rajasthan Vidyapeet were also invited to be on the panel.