Meghalaya launches India’s first social audit law

Meghalaya became the first state in India to operationalise a law that makes the social audit of government programmes and schemes a part of government practice. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma launched ‘The Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act, 2017’, at a national convention in Shillong.

The event was attended by more than 200 people from state departments, citizens from audited villages and eminent citizens associated with social audits. The legislation — applicable to 11 departments and 21 schemes — was passed on April 4, and was followed by pilot social audits for 26 schemes in 18 villages of the northeastern state.

So far, social audits of government programmes have been done at the initiative of civil society organisations. These social audits had no official sanction. K N Kumar, Principal Secretary of Programme Implementation and Evaluation, the nodal agency implementing the social audit law in Meghalaya, cited three things as key in the Act.

Various policy issues related to the schemes have also emerged. The state government will now take up with the Centre the issue of an additional Rs 2 per child towards cooking cost to ensure daily hot cooked meals to all children studying in schools, ration cards of all Non-NFSA beneficiaries will be distributed by December 30, 2017, every school will have a boundary wall built for it under MGNREGA.

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