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Closed circuit television cameras will be installed in the offices of organisations that receive grants from the social justice and empowerment ministry in a government attempt to push more transparency and accountability in welfare programmes targeted at scheduled castes, other backward classes and other disadvantaged sections.

The ministry plans to monitor the feed from at least 5% of such organisations on an annual basis to ensure that funds disbursed by the Centre are being put to proper use. The social justice and empowerment ministry runs a slew of programmes, including schemes for assisting voluntary organisations involved in supporting scheduled castes and OBCs. The programmes include free educational coaching for disadvantaged sections, and schemes to support senior citizens and stop alcoholism.

For implementation of most of these schemes, the government relies on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) it backs with funding. “However, there is always a need to monitor how well the funds have been spent and ensure accountability in case of complaints. As the government is keen on improving the position of the weaker sections, a major step in achieving this goal is to ensure that the schemes are effective. And that can only happen if there is proper monitoring and accountability. Therefore, the ministry has decided to use the latest tech to tighten the screws on any possible leakages,” an official familiar with the monitoring plan said.

The ministry issued an order on January 27 that it has sent to all state governments as well, detailing the process that NGOs which receive central funds will need to follow. Social justice secretary R Subrahmanyam, when contacted, confirmed that an order aimed at ensuring greater accountability in the functioning of NGOs that receive grants from the ministry had been issued.

According to the order, organisations set up with central grants-in-aid shall proactively disclose their performance on their website and also on the government’s e-Anudaan portal. There will also be a portal that will monitor the work being done by them.

“The portal shall allow updating of the information on all the given performance criteria at regular intervals, Apart from this, in every institution there shall be closed circuit cameras from where live feed shall be available on their website. The right to view this can be restricted in specific cases,” the ministry order accessed by HT says. An inspection team will visit the offices of organisations that face public complaints. Based on its order, a decision could be taken for the continuation or otherwise of central grants, the order said.

“If the government is providing money it is naturally entitled to assess how the grant is utilised. There are organizations which hold coaching classes and for this receive government support. Monitoring is an important part of government schemes. However, organizations in the social sector should also ensure that their work is completely transparent…,” said former Union secretary Uday Kumar Varma.