Saturday, June 30, 2012

NGOs enjoy foreign mewa for no sewa!

iconimg Saturday, June 30, 2012
M Tariq Khan
April 16, 2006

WITH HIGH-SOUNDING titles like Mahila Sewa Trust, Adarsh Sewa Sansthan, they call themselves non-profit organizations working for public good. But the only ‘sewa’ (service) they seem to have rendered so far is to line their own pockets with foreign funds collected in the name of such overt welfare schemes.
The district administration here has prepared a list of such erring Non Government Organisations (NGOs) that having gathered foreign aide disappeared from the scene. “Of the 23 such organizations that we had randomly selected from a list of 108 in the city, 11 did not exist on the address given by them,” said additional district magistrate (executive) NP Singh. That’s almost 50 per cent. “We would now be writing to the Union Home Ministry to blacklist these outfits to prevent them from receiving any foreign aid in future,” said the ADM. According to Singh, they were provided a list of 108 city NGOs, who had received foreign contributions during 2002-03 from the Union Home Ministry, which had sought a report from them on the activities of these organizations as well as the end-utilisation of funds.
Additional city magistrate (V) Anil Kumar Singh was subsequently, put on the job to verify the antecedents of the agencies in his areas that had received money from abroad. Of the 23 such odd NGOs that were selected for random survey, the ACM discovered that 11 had simply vanished from the scene. They included ‘Nalanda’ in Aliganj, Society for Aid and Development in Indira Nagar, The National Society for Blinds, Indira Nagar, Thomas Educational Christian Society, Vikas Nagar, Arthik Vikas Evam Jan Kalyan Sansthan C-736 Indira Nagar, Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Science, Vikram Khand, Gomti Nagar.
“Then there were a couple of other agencies like Assemblies of God Mission and Catholic Diocese of Lucknow, which were untraceable, as no address was provided in the list sent to us by the authorities,” said an administration official. Here it is pertinent to mention that under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 1976 (FCRA) any Indian organisation or individual who seeks to receive foreign contributions has to obtain a clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“While it would be wrong to tar all the NGOs with the same brush, it is also an accepted fact that a large number of these outfits that claim to be working in the cultural, social, educational, health and religious sectors divert funds or misuse them for personal gains,” said ADM Singh.
The irony, however, is that there is no proper audit-mechanism to keep a check on how the money is being spent, he added. He said it was because of this loophole in the law, several organizations got away without maintaining proper records or accounts of the funds received by them, said Singh. Indeed, the Centre, had mooted a Bill on foreign contributions in 2005 to give more teeth to the authorities to rein in erring NGOs. But it is yet to be cleared by the Parliament.

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