19 April, 2021

Oh, What A Racket!

The hills are alive with the buzz of self-seeking NGOs, many existing only in name

Tribhuvan Tiwari
Oh, What A Racket!
Lush forests are not the only bounty that Uttaranchal got in its kitty after it became a state in November 2000. It also got close to 45,000 NGOs—mind-boggling for a state so tiny, with a population of only 84.7 lakh. Records from the offices of the chief commissioner of income tax and the registrar of societies confirm this huge NGO presence. What has also come as a surprise to the authorities is the unusually high density of NGOs in a state with 13 districts. That's nearly 4,000 NGOs per district!

When Uttaranchal's IT commissioner Ashwini Luthra initiated a survey of NGOs in May, he did not expect to chance upon a fraud that runs into crores of rupees. "When the IT department started collecting data, we found that many NGOs did not actually exist or were non-functional," says Luthra. "Yet, money is being pumped into trusts, educational societies, NGOs and ashrams all over Uttaranchal." While the IT office lists a total 44,824 groups, the office of the registrar puts the figure at 41,826.

No wonder then that Uttaranchal's NGO community is rife with allegations of...

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