Tamil Nadu has the dubious distinction of ranking third in the list of states with largest number of black-listed non-government organisations next only to Uttar Pradesh and Meghalaya. The Central Social Welfare Board has on its official website blacklisted about 3,500 NGOs in the country on charges of misappropriating funds, not submitting accounts and not complying with guidelines.
In the recently updated list, Uttar Pradesh ranks first with 332 black-listed NGOs followed by Meghalaya (323), Tamil Nadu (304), Andhra Pradesh (287) and Punjab (223). The tiny territory of Puducherry that encompasses 479 sq.km. has 140 NGOs blacklisted by the central government. Translated it means, approximately one black-listed NGO every 3 sq.km. in Puducherry! The establishment of the Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB) in 1953 was the first attempt by the union government to streamline welfare efforts in the country. The CSWB has been extending grants worth of several crores of rupees every year to thousands of voluntary organisations and NGOs spread across the country to implement welfare programmes for women and children.
The present pattern of assistance to NGOs can be classified mainly under three heads that focus on empowerment through education, economic empowerment and support services.
Empowerment through education schemes include programmes to impart vocational training for women above 15 years, creating awareness among rural and poor women on nutrition and hygiene to legal literacy while economic empowerment scheme include projects to extend financial assistance to women for income generating activities and support services include schemes to establish crashes and working women’s hostels, voluntary action bureaus (VAB) and family counseling centers for conducting legal literacy camps.
The CSWB also executes innovative schemes exclusively for mentally retarded children and children of prostitutes. The board that reviews the performance of the NGOs periodically found that certain NGOs were misusing the funds and did not comply with the guidelines. A section of NGOs too did not submit proper accounts about their expenditure.
For example an NGO that was granted Rs 3.69 lakh to undertake a one-year rehabilitation programme and extend financial assistance to 50 trafficked girls had distributed the stipend only to five girls. Moreover the NGO received funds to the tune of Rs 4 lakh citing the same project from other funding agencies in addition to the government of India.
The board blacklisted such erring NGOs across the country, blocked the financial assistance extended to them to execute schemes and began efforts to recover entire grant amount from them.Â However, the board also gives opportunities to blacklisted NGOs to refund the loans and submit their accounts to be removed from the dubious list and become eligible again for financial assistance under various schemes.
‘NGOs must be more accountable’
G Sugumaran, secretary, Federation for People’s Rights
NGOs that receive government funds have greater accountability. The central and state governments must initiate stringent action against the NGOs misusing funds and not complying with the rules. A separate cell with prosecution powers must be set up to book them and recover funds. The crack down on such bogus NGOs will encourage genuine NGOs to work tirelessly.
D Dominic, secretary, Puducherry State Social Welfare Advisory Board
Whenever the Central Social Welfare Board blacklists an NGO it sends correspondence to all its allied agencies. We make sure that the blacklisted NGOs are not granted further loans. This is done periodically throughout the year. But 140 blacklisted NGOs in Puducherry is an alarming figure. It reveals that the central and state boards are very strict in monitoring welfare schemes and do not hesitate to blacklist NGOs that violate rules and regulations.
Deccan Chronicle / 27.05.2007.