State government departments will soon have to upload photographic evidence of ongoing works, along with details of projects, on a digital platform for release of funds at every stage of implementation.
The state planning department is developing a digital platform where departments will be expected to enter details such as photographs of actual work site, date on which project was approved, cost, estimated outlay over the next few years, as well as copy of the work order. The project details will be tagged with the name of the district, taluka and village in which the work is being implemented, as well as latitude and longitude of the project site.
The department plans to do this by synchronising the digital platform with the existing budget estimation, allocation and monitoring system (BEAMS), an online computerised system that the state government has been using to distribute the budget and authorise expenditure.
Sudhir Mungantiwar, state Minister for Planning and Finance, said, “Making departments upload photographs of actual work will help the government ensure that milestones are being met before releasing payment. The intention is to not withhold payments, but put a system in place.”
He said sometimes quality of work such as road repairs, or filling potholes is not up to the mark and the state government ends up spending money time and again for the same purpose. “A system like this, where there is a history of photographic evidence, will help in plugging such wasteful expenditure. Ground photography of projects has worked very well in Jal Yukta Shivar,” he said.
Mungantiwar had mooted the monitoring of government-aided schemes through evidence-based photography during his budget speech in March.
A government official, who did not wish to be named, said, “All departments would not have necessarily submitted photographic evidence on time. So, to make this kind of monitoring more effective, we decided to link it to release of funds.”
He added that 80 per cent of all government departments are already on the system of BEAMS. “They will have to key in project details and upload photographs online. For departments not linked with BEAMS, we plan to insist on manual reports,” he said. A team of senior officials from the departments of planning, finance, the National Informatics Centre, and the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre will oversee the implementation of the entire initiative.
The planning and finance departments will first run a pilot from November involving two departments, agriculture and irrigation, and roll out the system for other departments after addressing any hiccups faced during the pilot, the official said.