National

Individual contributions to NDRF get green light from Finance Ministry

The Finance Ministry has given approval to a proposal to allow individuals and institutions to contribute directly to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). In an office memo issued on Friday, the Expenditure Department said it had no objection to the proposal made by the Union Home Secretary on May 4.

This is a significant development at a time when many have expressed concerns about donations sent to the PM CARES Fund or the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, as both claim they are not public authorities subject to questions under the Right to Information Act. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court sought a response from the Centre to a plea that contributions made to the PM CARES Fund to fight coronavirus (COVID-19) should be transferred entirely to the NDRF.

The NDRF was set up in accordance with Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. It is meant to “meet the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation” for any threatening disaster situation. Although Section 46 includes a clause regarding grants made by any person or institution, provisions for such donations had not been made.

Over the last two months, RTI activist Lokesh Batra has been writing to the Home and Finance Ministries demanding that such provisions be created. “It’s a government fund that is spent for the national cause and is auditable by CAG and will fall under the RTI Act,” he said. “Citizens can keep watch to ensure the money is spent judiciously.”

The procedure laid out in the Finance Ministry memo says “receipts in the form of grants/donations made by any person for the purpose of disaster management may be taken as receipts of GoI under a new minor head” being created for the purpose. Cheques may be drawn by the donor in the name of “PAO (Secretariat) MHA.” Similar procedures may be followed for contributions to the State Disaster Relief Funds as well, the memo said.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 12:17:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/individual-contributions-to-ndrf-get-green-light-from-finance-ministry/article31872874.ece

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