The government of India has asked the states and the union territories (UTs) to carry out a social audit for the mid-day meal scheme in every district by November 30. The social audit is mandatory under the National Food Security Act, 2013, a report by Indian Express (IE) said.
Several states have been running behind their schedule to conduct the audit, the report added. Also, several states have told the centre that the process was initiated in past, and final reports were not submitted to the Ministry of Education, in several cases.
The social audit is important in detecting irregularities like siphoning of funds and helps the authorities to get feedback from the local community, on the scheme.
According to IE, the Meghalaya government has not submitted the audit report for 2019-20 and Assam’s 2020-21 reports are awaited. Nine states and four UTs have not even initiated social audits for 2021-22.
“During the PAB-PM POSHAN meetings also the states and UTs have been directed to conduct a social audit in all schools covering all districts for the year 2021-22 and also advised to conduct a social audit of the scheme in all the districts every year. You are therefore requested to initiate action to conduct a social audit of PM POSHAN in all districts in your state/UT for the year 2021-22 on a priority basis and as per MoE guidelines and conclude it with a mandatory Public hearing by 30th November 2022,” the ministry told states, as reported by IE.
States which have not carried out social audits in 2021-22 include Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Punjab, Odisha, Haryana, and Chhattisgarh. In the UTs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry, Ladakh and Lakshadweep.
Also, in the states that have conducted regular audits, proper guidelines were not followed. This includes Gujarat.