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Relief fund Money lies unused, donations pour in for PM CARES

NEW DELHI: The PM CARES fund (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund), which has been started to meet the mounting expenses to fight the COVID19 pandemic has seen millionaires and celebrities open their purse strings. However, data from the past few years shows that thousands of crores of rupees are lying unused in the Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
PMNRF has income exceeding its expenditure. At the end of 2018-19, it had an unspent balance of Rs 3,800 crore.

While setting up the PM CARES fund, the government had clarified that “keeping in mind the need for having a dedicated national fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a public charitable trust under the name of ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund)’ has been set up.” The PM is the chairman of this trust.

However, PMNRF also serves a similar purpose. The funds are used to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities and assist partially to defray expenses of medical treatment for the needy.Pointing towards the unused funds, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Monday tweeted, “…Why not simply rename PMNRF as PM-CARES, given the PM’s penchant for catchy acronyms, instead of creating a separate Public Charitable Trust whose rules & expenditure are totally opaque? @PMOIndia you owe the country an explanation for this highly unusual step.”

Two days ago, PM Narendra Modi had urged people to contribute to the PM Cares fund. The appeal had led to massive donations from various sections of society. Billionaire Gautam Adani announced a Rs 100-crore contribution by his group’s philanthropy arm.

Tata Sons and Tata Trusts have pledged to contribute Rs 1,500 crore for the cause while Reliance Industries had made an initial contribution of Rs 5 crore, besides opening India’s first COVID-19 hospital in Mumbai.