21 June 2012
Evaluation Report Says NGOs Fabricated Records And District Officials Overlooked It
Pune: As many as 161 special schools run by as many NGOs in the state that had applied for government funds called grant–in–aid do not meet the eligibility criteria, an evaluation undertaken by the Disability Commissionerate, Pune, has said. The report has been sent to the state social justice department.
Only those NGOs running special schools started before October 1, 2002 can apply and receive grant–in–aid, as per the policy of the state social justice department. Upon re–evaluation of the applications for grants that had been recommended by district–level officials, the commissionerate found that 115 NGOs had obtained licences between October 2, 2002, and February 2010.
Licences are required to establish or maintain an institution for persons with disabilities under Section 51 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
"Their applications were haphazardly recommended by field officials in various districts without a detailed enquiry. Hence a re–evaluation was necessary. If these NGOs were established after October 2, 2002, how could they have sent applications for grant–in–aid, claiming that they had their special schools running before October 1, 2002? These NGOs had fabricated records, claiming to fulfil the eligibility criteria which they did not. In addition, the district level officials erroneously recommended these false applications," said a senior official of the disability commissionerate.
Another eligibility criterion to start such an NGO requires it to be registered under the Society's Registration Act, 1860. But 14 of the 161 NGOs had received their registrations after 2003, which made them ineligible for receiving grants. "If these 14 NGOs started their institutions after 2003, how could they have run special schools before they even started? Field officers ignored this criterion as well," the official said.
Two other special schools whose applications had earlier been approved by district field officers had received their licences (as is mandatory under the Section 51 of the Persons with Disabilities–Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation Act, 1995) after 2008.
"These two schools had closed down, but were re–established after 2008. They too did not fit the eligibility criterion. Yet their applications for grant had been recommended by the district field officials," he said.
Yet another eligibility criterion for applying for grant–in–aid is that a school should have completed at least two years after obtaining licence, at the time of applying for assistance. "This criterion was also flouted, as four other special schools had received their licences after March 2010. In addition, as many as 26 special schools of the total 161 were found to have a 'doubtful' status, and needed detailed scrutiny before sanction of grant," the official said.
Grant–in–aid covers the salaries of approved staff in the school as well as non–salary grants for recurring expenditure and other recurring nonhonorarium items such as rent, food expenses (in case of residential school), contingencies, and so on," the official said.
There is a set procedure to apply for grant–in–aid. "The NGOs first send their proposals for grants to the district officials of the social welfare department who recommend these proposals to the disability commissionerate, which forwards them to the state government," he said.
The social justice department has formed a committee which will frame a new policy based on which NGOs can apply for grant–in–aid, so that such malpractices do not happen, officials said.