Village Lekha Mitra ensures transparency and financial accountability of village committee recordsStory
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
In June 2022, Kasturi, a Village Lekha Mitra, completed her nine-day training on bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing of books of accounts of the Village Development Committee (VDC) and started working with the VDC of Tikiripada village in Gopinathpur Panchayat in Kalahandi district, to audit the committee accounts. She soon realised that the VDC did not properly maintain the receipts and bills for the several fnancial transactions accounted for. She updated the records, reconciled the VDC books of accounts, and oriented the Tikiripada VDC members to maintain registers and logs in future. After submitting the fnalised audited books and registers to the Tikiripada VDC President, Kaifhul Majhi, she received a fee of 5000. Post this, Kasturi got another assignment to audit the records of Bafa Goudapada village in Gopinathpur Panchayat and Tangiri Goudapada village in Adri Panchayat.
Village Lekha Mitra are Service Providers who take up reconciliation and accounting work for the VDC. They maintain records, registers and undergo training to reconcile the VDC books of accounts. The objective is to support the VDCs in getting their accounts audited and streamlined, which helps them maintain transparency in their communities. This self-sustaining entrepreneurial model creates job opportunities for the youth where VLMs receive payments from the VDCs for their services.
Kasturi fnds 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 Village Lekha Mitra (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 signifcant shift.
He says, “During the GBMs, community members 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.”
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chandrika Patnaik leads content production within the Communications team in Gram Vikas. Amrita Haldipur edited the story.
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