A Village Lekha Mitra ensures transparency and financial accountability of village committee records


By Chandrika Patnaik

19 July 2023

A Village Lekha Mitra helps village development committees maintain record transparency.

Village Lekha Mitra (VLM) participants undergone training in Kalahandi district to reconcile the Village Development Committee books of accounts.

Photograph by Parakhita Naik

Village Development Committees (VDCs) work with a community of Village Lekha Mitra (VLMs) to build transparent accounting and auditing systems in rural areas of Odisha. Trained under the Community Cadre Management Programme by Gram Vikas, VLMs maintain records and registers and undergo training to reconcile the VDC books of accounts. This self-sustaining entrepreneurial model creates job opportunities for the youth where VLMs receive payments from the VDCs for their services.

In June 2022, Kasturi completed her nine-day VLM training and started working with the VDC of Tikiripada village in Gopinathpur Panchayat to audit the committee accounts. She soon realised that VDC did not properly maintain the receipts and bills for the several financial transactions accounted for. She updated the records, reconciled the VDC book of accounts, and oriented the Tikiripada VDC members to maintain registers and logs in future. After submitting the finalised audited books and registers to the Tikiripada VDC President, Kaifhul Majhi, she received a fee of ₹5000. Currently, Kasturi is auditing the records of Bafla Goudapada village in Gopinathpur Panchayat and Tangiri Goudapada village in Adri Panchayat.

Kasturi finds this work well-suited as it allows her to conduct audits at her convenience. She shares, “It took me over two months to complete auditing the Tikiripada village committee accounts as I had to prepare for my exams and attend classes simultaneously.” She enjoys balancing her work with her studies as she can pay college fees and bus fares. “I will use the money I earn as a VLM to pay for my education. It’s a big burden off my parents’ shoulders this time,” says Kasturi.

Tikiripada VDC President Kaifhul Majhi, 35, says that in February 2023, during the General Body Meeting (GBM) of the village, it was easy for him to explain the past year’s accounts to the residents transparently and thoroughly. In the past, the VDC did not streamline the expenses or any incoming funds, and the committee members could not explain the balance sheet clearly during GBMs, leading to distrust among residents. But with the guidance of VLMs, the VDC members are witnessing a significant shift.

He says, ” During the GBMs, residents would get into arguments during the presentation by the President as they were not in full agreement of the expenses incurred and the services provided. Presidents would only show the updated bank passbook during the GBM to avoid unpleasant situations. But this year, the presentation on expenses conducted took residents by surprise. I explained every small and big expense to the satisfaction of the residents attending the meeting.”

In 2007, after the Mitrapur residents formed a VDC, they partnered with Gram Vikas to set up their piped water and sanitation system.

Over the years, the VDC documented the expenditure related to the construction of toilets and bathrooms but needed to audit their income and spending. This led to confusion and misunderstanding among the people. The Mitrapur VDC President Rania Mallik approached Gram Vikas in September 2022 about the issues the VDC faced related to accounts with the residents.

During this time, Gram Vikas conducted meetings in several villages with VDCs and residents in the Kankia Gram Panchayat under the Kukudakhandi block to select cadres from their community as VLMs to take up reconciliation and accounting work for the VDCs in the Panchayat.

In September 2022, Buddhadev Mallik and Dibyajoti Mallik from nearby Sarakata village in the Panchayat were selected as Village Lekha Mitras to audit and streamline accounts of all the villages under the Panchayat. After their selection, Gram Vikas trained them in accounting and auditing skills at its Mohuda campus in September 2022.

After completing the training, Mitrapur VDC sought their help to audit their accounts from 2007 and to reconcile accounts for the new construction work of water tanks, pipelines and dug well done in 2018.

VLMs Buddhadev and Dibyajyoti submitted the updated accounts in November 2022.

During the GBM in the village in December 2022, Rania Mallik, President of Mitrapur presented the audited expenditure report on the toilet, bathing room, and water supply from 2006-07 and 2018. He shares, “The VLMs did a great job in updating and auditing registers of our committee. I could explain everything with ease and clarity during the GBM. There is no more confusion regarding our income and expenditure among the residents. Buddhadev and Dibyajyoti oriented the village committee members on maintaining the expenditure, cash book and other records. Henceforth, we have to maintain and manage records regularly.”

Residents and village committees of nearby villages like Sarakata, Betajhari, Sanakaranjei and Baniamari were impressed by the steps taken to reconcile the records by the Mitrapur VDC.

VDCs of Sarakata and Betajhari appointed Buddhadev Mallik to reconcile their book of accounts. Buddhadev Mallik feels VLM is a good platform for youth from villages to improve skills in record keeping and have the opportunity to make a profession in accounting. The Mitrapur VDCs paid Buddhadeb and Dibyajyoti ₹1000 each. While the Sarakata VDC paid Buddhadeb ₹1000, his work reconciling Betajhari village accounts continues.

Currently, 15 VLM cadres from Keonjhar, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jharsuguda, Kandhamal and Kalahandi are helping VDCs in bookkeeping.

Books of account reconciled by Kasturi is being presented by the President of Village Development Committee, Tikiripada village in the General Body Meeting.

Photograph by Bidyutprava Praharaj


Bidyutprava Praharaj and Manikamala Swain, Thematic Coordinators, Planning Monitoring Documentation and Communication, and Kailash Das, a Thematic Coordinator in Village Institutions helped collect data for the story.


Chandrika Patnaik leads content production within the Communications team in Gram Vikas. Amrita Haldipur edited the story.


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