In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Assam government will carry out social audit of the relief provided to flood victims this year in order to eliminate corruption and bring transparency in the process.
Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) Chief Executive Officer M S Manivannan told PTI on Wednesday that the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the implementation of the social audit has been issued to all districts.
"For the first time, we are conducting a social audit of relief materials distributed among the flood-affected people. This is being done to bring more transparency and eliminate corruption," he said.
A 40-point SOP, comprising the clause of social audit at village panchayat-level, was issued to the district authorities for management of relief and rehabilitation, particularly during COVID-19 pandemic, the official said.
"The social audit will be done after the flood. It will find out if the needy had actually received relief and whether appropriate measures were taken to help them," he said.
So far this year, nearly 26 lakh people have been affected by the deluge. Of the 63 people killed in deluge and landslides, 39 lost their lives in flood-related incidents.
ASDMA Project Coordinator Pankaj Chakravarty said the social audit will be conducted by field-level officers of the district disaster management authorities under the supervision of circle officers.
"The officers will visit each affected village and conduct the audit in front of the people. This will help them verify whether all the affected people got relief as reported to the higher authorities in the district and to us as well," he said.
Chakravarty admitted that there had been reports of irregularities, especially in the distribution of fodder for domestic animals.
"At times, we have seen that the quantity of fodder which was reported to have been distributed was higher than the actual number of animals in a particular village. From Guwahati, we send truck-loads of fodder, but those who require it do not get anything," he said while replying to a question.
Such irregularities took place in the distribution of other items too. People had complained that plastic was distributed to them, while on paper it was mentioned as tarpaulin, the ASDMA project coordinator added.
He asserted that the social audit was being introduced to stop all forms of irregularities in distribution of relief.
"We cannot say that the venture will be a complete success this year itself, but it is a good beginning. We hope that in the coming years the initiative will eventually clean the system," Chakravarty said.