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Womens’ empowerment scheme under scanner

Officials allege NGOs siphoning off funds

Written by Faisal Fareed | Lucknow | Published: September 8, 2013 6:03:57 am

Nai Roshni,the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Minority Affairs aimed at empowering women from minority communities has come under the scanner,with officials alleging siphoning off funds by NGOs.

The state’s Minority Welfare Department is surprised at the NGOs claim that nearly 9,000 women from minority communities have been empowered in Lucknow.

With high volume of funds involved,the Minority Welfare Department decided to verify these claims before recommending payment of their second instalment. A sum of Rs 13 crore was sanctioned to NGOs across the state for running the flagship scheme in 2012-13. The maximum sanction of Rs 3.5 crore was made to 11 Lucknow-based NGOs and in the first instalment,70 per cent of the funds was released.

“We need to verify claims of NGOs. Such huge funding does not make sense. There is lot of pressure on us for recommending the second instalment of grant in aid. We are treading carefully and everything has to be authenticated,” Rahul Gupta,District Minority Welfare Officer (DMWO) of Lucknow said.

The issue came to light when NGOs submitted their papers from DMWO for the second instalment.

As many as 5 NGOs said they imparted training in Kakori’s Khushhalganj village. “We need to check their beneficiaries as duplicity cannot be ruled out. I am being pressurised for making favourable recommendations,but I will not budge,” Rahul Gupta,DMWO said.

“It has also to be ascertained that NGOs are showcasing photographs of rural women with a banner claiming they had imparted training. We need to meet the beneficiaries to ensure they benefited from it,” he said. In case of a default,there is a provision of recovering the amount with 18 per cent penal interest from NGOs.

Gupta said till date only Sadhbhawna Samiti,which was given Rs 14.31 lakh,has fulfilled its obligations. “As per the guidelines,there must be a website of NGOs detailing the progress of made,” he said.

The stand has not gone down well with the NGOs. “No one can accuse us of siphoning funds as we conduct our work with utmost honesty. We have been given clean chit by previous DMWO. Rahul Gupta is yet to inspect our records. We do not care about any pre-conceived notion of any official,” Abhay Singh,Director,Manav Vikas Evam Sewa Sansthan said.

Abhay Singh’s NGO was sanctioned Rs 57.90 lakh under the scheme. Ashok Singh,who runs Nirmal India Sewa Sansthan in Bakshi Ka Talab,said it is up to the officials to release the second instalment. “I had submitted my papers,” he said. Ashok Singh’s NGO has been sanctioned Rs 35.77 lakh under the scheme.

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