Indians abroad not crazy about Swachh Bharat: Modi’s pet scheme got only this much foreign money

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February 21, 2020 1:22 PM

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat got enthusiastic participation and generous contribution in India, it failed to attract funds from Indian diaspora.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (IE photo)

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat got enthusiastic participation and generous contribution in India, it failed to attract funds from a constituency for which the government kept a special door opened with a red carpet — Indians abroad. Out of the total funding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat scheme has received so far in five years, negligible funding came from abroad even after the government provided incentives on foreign funding. Swachh Bharat Kosh (the fund) received an aggregate contribution of Rs 777 crore, but “foreign sources” gave just a paltry Rs 13.79 lakh, according to an RTI filed by The Indian Express.

The Swachh Bharat Kosh fund received zero contributions from “foreign sources” in 2015-17 and 2019-20. Only in 2017-18 and 2018-19, the fund got Rs 3.79 lakh and Rs 10 lakh respectively, according to data provided by the Department of Expenditure under the Finance Ministry. As of 17 December 2019, the fund had a balance of Rs 158.29 crore.

No foreign money even after incentives

The government had incentivised diaspora to contribute more to the fund. The Trust was exempted under the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act (FCRA) on the condition that “all foreign contributions would be received in an exclusive bank account only.” The state had also transferred Rs 3.59 crore to SBK by February 2019 from the India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF-OI). IDF-OI trust, which was meant for promotion of overseas Indian philanthropy for social and development projects in India, was discontinued in March 2018.

“With a view to enhancing synergies to channelise diaspora’s contributions to Government’s flagship programmes such as Namami Gange and Swachh Bharat Mission via Clean Ganga Fund and Swachh Bharat Kosh, a decision has been taken for closure of IDF-OI by March 31, 2018,” a message on the official Facebook page of IDF-OI on said.

The foreign contributions are received in a specially designated account which is in the State Bank of India, the nodal department of SBK said, the national daily reported. “Mostly, foreign contribution is received through designated agencies such as Consulate General of India in various countries… Certain contributions are made directly to the designated bank account (maintained in SBI),” it said. The account is maintained by the Chief Controller of Accounts (Finance), as per the RTI. The Swachh Bharat Kosh was established some months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country will become Open Defecation Free (ODF) by the 150th birth anniversary year of Mahatma Gandhi. He announced the same on 15 August 2014.

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