The Inter University Centre for Social Science Research and Extension (IUCSSRE), Mahatma Gandhi University organized a workshop that shed light on the critical need for collaboration between people’s representatives of local self-government bodies and officials involved in the National Rural Employment Scheme (NREGS). The workshop, titled ‘Social Audit under MGNREGS,’ in partnership with the State Social Audit Unit held in Ernakulam, highlighted the essential role cooperation and timely action play in achieving the genuine objectives of the Rural Employment Scheme. Emphasizing the importance of a positive shift in the orientation towards social audits in gram panchayats, the workshop warned that a lack of change may compromise the transparency and efficiency of the employment guarantee scheme, ultimately resulting in the loss of central assistance.
Participants at the workshop raised concerns about the non-representative nature of social audits in gram panchayats. Despite Kerala’s leading role in national-level social audits, there is a pressing need for enhanced transparency and efficiency in grassroots project activities. The workshop underlined the necessity for substantial cooperation at the panchayat-block level to enable the efficient functioning of officers appointed for social audits. The absence of such cooperation often hinders the effective execution of social audits.
As part of the workshop, a report on social audit experiences in Kozhikode, Ernakulam, Idukki, and Pathanamthitta districts is being prepared, supported by the Kerala Government’s State Plan Fund. Key officials from the NREGS in Ernakulam district actively participated in the workshop, alongside the Ernakulam social audit team. Dr. N. Ramakanthan, Director of the Social Audit Unit and former Director General of KILA, delivered the keynote address.
The workshop also saw the involvement of State Appellate Authority (Ombudsman) Member Vinodini, Joint Programme Coordinator Shyamalaskhmi, Balamurali, Centre Director K.M. Seethi, Sabu Thomas, Ajay, Sudheep, Jubin Jacob, Thalhat, and others, who coordinated the workshop.