Prime Minister Narendra Modi donated Rs 2.25 lakh from his own pocket as the "initial corpus" to the PM CARES Fund just after it was set up, officials in the Prime Minister's Office have said. Short for Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, the money collected under PM CARES is deployed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
"PM Modi donated Rs 2.25 lakh towards the initial corpus of PM CARES Fund after it was set up," a PMO official said, asking not to be named.
"PM Modi has a long legacy of contributing to public causes ranging from girl child education to work on cleaning the Ganga to welfare of the underprivileged. These donations have now exceeded Rs 103 crore," the official said.
The Congress and others parties have questioned the legal validity of PM CARES Fund and questioned the need for it, pointing to the similar Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
Concerns have been raised over corporate social responsibility benefits denied to contributions to state disaster relief funds. PM CARES Fund cannot be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
The centre has defended the PM CARES Fund, saying it is a voluntary fund while budgetary allocations take care of other disaster response funds.
PM Modi last year donated Rs 21 lakh from his personal savings to a corpus fund for the welfare of sanitation workers at the Kumbh Mela held in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj.
After receiving the Seoul Peace Prize in South Korea, PM Modi donated the entire prize money of Rs 1.3 crore for work on cleaning the Ganga. He donated another Rs 3.40 crore fetched in an auction of his mementoes to the river-cleaning mission, PMO officials said. Rs 8.35 crore raised in an auction of gifts PM Modi had received in 2015 also went to the Namame Ganga Mission, the officials said.
On completing his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he had donated Rs 21 lakh from his own savings for educating daughters of Gujarat government staff. He raised Rs 89.96 crore by auctioning all the gifts he received while he was chief minister and donated this to the Kanya Kelavani Fund, which helps girl children for their education.
The PM CARES Fund is exempted under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and a separate account for receiving foreign donations has been opened. This enables PM CARES Fund to accept donations and contributions from individuals and organisations abroad.
"This is consistent with respect to Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF). PMNRF has also received foreign contributions as a public trust since 2011," the government says on the PM CARES Fund website.