NEW DELHI: The government is planning to fine-tune the monitoring mechanism against NGOs to ensure that there is no siphoning of funds. One of the suggestions made by the Cabinet Secretariat in this regard is to use the Geographic Information System (GIS) — it collects and analyses spatial or geographic data — to keep a watch on the functioning of NGOs and movement of funds. The GIS will help monitor that no NGO is able to receive funds from two sources for the same work, the Secretariat has argued.
“There should be a system in every scheme to verify and ensure whether the NGO has spent the money for the purpose for which the grant was given. GIS or other appropriate technologies should be used to ensure that grants should not be taken from more than one source for the same work,” a Cabinet Secretariat note accessed by The New Indian Express said.
There are around 32 lakh NGOs operating in the country, but hardly 3 lakh have been filing Income Tax returns. Discussions within government departments raised concerns over fly-by-night operators in the social sector who are misusing government funds.
The Supreme Court had ordered an audit of all NGOs after a petition claimed that a majority of them were raised to siphon off government funds under the guise of social welfare work. The court had also pulled up the central government for failing to create a monitoring mechanism.
“We need to have a system where NGOs violating rules or those running away with taxpayer’s money are prosecuted like criminals. So far, we just blacklist these NGOs and they are barred from receiving future funding from government departments. We are working on other tough mechanisms to ensure funds are properly utilised,” a senior official privy to the government’s proposed plan said.
Only around 21,000 NGOs have been enrolled centrally. The government had recently launched an NGO portal, Darpan, for registration of NGOs and generation of a unique identity number. The government has made the unique number mandatory for all grants under various ministries and central departments.
“While giving unique identifiers to the NGOs, PAN and Aadhaar numbers of all trustees and office bearers should be taken. The ministries should process the proposal for grants and release them to the NGOs only through this portal,” the note said.
Among the registered NGOs issued a unique identity number, around 9,700 are operating in the health and family welfare sector while 8,800 are working for the welfare of children. For effective monitoring, the government has classified these NGOs in 42 sectors.