Surprise inspections conducted by students and alumnae of institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Delhi University (DU) and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) on government-funded organisations that claimed to be working for public welfare have thrown up evidence of widespread and systemic abuse.
The Union ministry of social justice is now planning a crackdown on over 100 such entities after the inspections, which were carried out under the guidance of officials from the National Institute of Social Defence (NISD).
Nearly 130 or 19 % of the 700 organizations surveyed in the novel exercise were either non-functional, had violated regulator norms, did not maintain records or simply could not justify the government grants they sought or had received.
HT has accessed details of the surveys carried out on organizations across the country; they reveal how lax oversight has led to a large number of organizations managing to get government funds, but not maintaining records and not investing in either infrastructure and staff. Many were simply non-functional.
Upset by the results of the survey and in one of its biggest drives for accountability, the social justice ministry is now planning to blacklist around 130 organisations which received government funds; it is also considering tightening regulatory norms.
“This was a unique effort in which bright and conscientious students from institutions like the IITs, DU, TISS etc, working with the government as young professionals, were involved to carry out the surprise inspections fairly and with the required secrecy. They were guided by officials from the officials from NISD,” said a person aware of the development.
The surprise element paid off.
“The crack team of young professionals with which the PMUhas been constituted, has been inspecting the grant-in-aid institutions of the ministry and found many a fraud. The ministry is now blacklisting these institutions and deleting them from the list of those eligible for grants,” said the person cited above.
On average, these institutions received grants of upto Rs 25 lakh a year.
According to the details accessed by HT, in many cases, the organizations appeared to have brought in beneficiaries or even staff on a temporary basis. Non-maintenance of proper records was common. Many had creaky or deficient infrastructure. Some blamed the absence of staff on the Covid-19 problems.
When contacted, social justice ministry secretary R Subrahmanyam confirmed that the ministry had carried out surprise checks and would take appropriate action against organizations that had violated regulatory norms.In some cases, functionaries were evasive of did not cooperate with those making enquiries. In many cases, people inspecting the premises of beneficiaries of government grants raised doubts about the purpose for which the premises were used.Some entities that had moved from their addresses didn’t update their records.
A drug de-addiction centres in Sangareddy district of Telangana didn’t keep a record of visits by doctors. Local residents had no idea of the services provided by the centre.Another organization in Mahisagar in Gujarat had received a grant, but hadn’t started any work; it was yet to decide on the location of its centre.Many organizations were found to be charging high fees for their services.
Among the organizations that were checked, 336 were engaged in rehabilitation of drug addicts and related work and 253 in the welfare of senior citizen; over 100 organisations were engaged in supporting underprivileged scheduled caste communities
Fifty-two organisations that claimed to be working for rehabilitating drug addicts, 51 for the welfare of senior citizens and 26 for the upliftment of scheduled castes were found wanting.
State-wise, over 20 organisations in Maharashtra, 13 in Karnataka, 11 in Rajasthan and eight in Uttar Pradesh were among those that have come under the social justice ministry’s scanner.
The ministry runs a gamut of schemes for the welfare and empowerment of sections ranging from the scheduled castes and other backward classes to the elderly, transgenders, and differently abled sections.