Crowd funding for Acid Victims by NGOs

 

Having completed treatment, Lalita is now happily married

 

mid-day exclusive Zakira Shaikh is not the only acid attack victim who feels exploited by the NGO Make Love Not Scars. After mid-day’s report on the matter, yet another victim has come forward with allegations that the NGO used his patient’s picture and story to raise funds without consent. What’s more, neither the patient nor the hospital got a single penny from the money raised by the NGO.

Five years ago, Lalita Benbansi, 25, suffered nearly 80 per cent burns after her 15-year-old cousin threw acid on her after a petty argument. The Asangaon resident’s father supported the entire family on a salary of Rs 3,000, and the family could not afford to pay for treatment. At the time, Dr Ashok Gupta had provided full treatment to her free of charge at Bombay Hospital. This included 65 reconstructive surgeries.

 

However, Dr Gupta says he was surprised when he came across a crowdfunding campaign by Make Love Not Scars, claiming to raise funds for Lalita’s treatment. Neither he nor Lalita had been informed about this, nor had they received the $1,718 (approximately Rs 1.1 lakh) collected by the NGO.

‘Didn’t get any money’
“Ria Sharma’s NGO, Make Love Not Scars, did not give a single rupee to the hospital that provided quality treatment to the victim free of cost. It is their regular practice to collect money in the name of acid attack victims and not to transfer the full amount to the hospital carrying out the treatment,” said Dr Gupta.

After multiple surgeries, Lalita’s face was reconstructed and she got back on her feet. She is now happily married. She told mid-day, “I was not aware that money was raised in my name. I did not get any money. People should not play with the emotions of victims.”

Investigate the NGO
The matter is currently being investigated by the Byculla police, after Zakira’s family submitted a written complaint to them. Dr Gupta, who is a Padmashri awardee, said he is ready to provide details of Lalita’s case to the cops as well, demanding that the culprits be booked.

In June, Dr Gupta had also written to the charity commissioner in New Delhi, seeking his intervention in the matter. He wrote: “While surfing the Internet, I came across the NGO Make Love Not Scars, claiming to have collected a huge sum of money in US dollars towards the treatment of these patients. I was surprised to read the names of two patients who were treated by me at Bombay Hospital, for whom the NGO had raised $9,000 and $1,500.”

He suggested that there should be strict monitoring of such donations under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). Dr Gupta also wrote to Vijaya Rahatkar, chairperson of the state women’s rights commission on the matter.

‘Dr Gupta is credit-hungry’
Ria Sharma, founder of Make Love Not Scars, rubbished the allegations levelled by Dr Ashok Gupta, saying he is hungry for credit. She said, “Dr Gupta had told me that he was looking for financial aid for Lalita. He sent me her details and photographs, which were later used to raise money through crowdfunding. I have email evidence to show Dr Gupta is lying. That money is still with Indiegogo (the crowdfunding platform) and we have not used it for our own purpose.”

Asked why the funds were not transferred to Lalita, Sharma said, “A few things went wrong between me and Dr Gupta; he did not take my phone call, and hence, the money was never transferred.” Sharma added, “Dr Gupta is a credit-hungry person. He is targeting me for no reason.”

Sharma hit back at Dr Gupta, stating that he has withheld funds they raised for another victim, Reshma Qureshi. Qureshi told mid-day, “Dr Gupta is not polite with his patients and he has not released the Rs 2 lakh that was raised for my treatment. I need the funds for an eye operation.”

Not all experiences are bad
Who: Sushmita Murthy, 30, writer
Funds for: Heart surgery
Platform: Ketto
The process of making an account on Ketto was easy. Once I submitted the necessary documents, my campaign was live in two days. I raised Rs 1.04 lakh in five days. Since the patient needed the funds urgently, I shut down the campaign prematurely. The donations that came in rupees got transferred to my account in a couple of weeks. The foreign currency came by cheque and took a lot longer to process. I got a notification every time someone donated, so I could keep tabs on how much money was being raised. In the end, Ketto took a cut of 8-10 per cent as mentioned on the site. – As told to Aastha Atray Banan

Rs 3 lakh
The compensation awarded by the state government for acid attack survivors

55%
Portion of the total donations raised that Ketto had withheld from Shabbo Shaikh

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Form for survey – amongst girls 18-30 years age on social awareness level

 
  • Please send me the correct Answers/Score on my Email ID/WhatsApp on Above Mobile. I am keen to learn about Social issues on women empowerment and wish to receive Whatsapp/Emails on the latest Information/developments. Acknowledgement Thanks for taking part in a survey conducted by Centre for Social Sciences. About the outcome of the study you will be informed on your Contact no/Email. However, you may also contact us for similar studies or information on different Social Issues, we provide services on the following *Civil Society Activism * NGO Governance & Training *Social Research *Disability Studies & Empowerment Website: www.ourcivilsociety.com, Email ID: centreforsocialsciences@rediffmail.com , Phone: 9041222282
 

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Kamal Haasan lauds NGO for exposing Chennai Corporation’s Scam

Unearthing a scam to the tune of crores of rupees by the Chennai Corporation, NGO Arappor Iyakkam has exposed corruption in the laying of roads along bus routes in Chennai.

In a first in a series of promised “exposés”, the anti-corruption group has alleged a scam in the laying of ‘Devanathan Street’ in Mandaveli.

The Chennai Corporation had allocated Rs 345 crore for the re-laying of roads along the bus routes most frequented in 2015.

The RTI states Santhanam was issued the contract to relay Devanathan street.

The task of re-laying Devanathan Street was given to a contractor named J Santhanam and RTIs show it was completed on 30 May 2016 at the cost of Rs 36,97,776.

In a month’s time, the road was closed to the public and ‘patch work’ costing Rs 2,00,092 was carried out. The contract for this ‘patch work’ had been given to another company, MPK Enterprises. The height of the road had been increased and the RTI clearly states that no quality check was done before the added work was done on the road.

But that wasn’t all.

In December, another bill was raised for Rs 26,50,104 by J Santhanam, the original contractor for the road, citing ‘Metrowater road cut repair’.

That is, a bill which was 70% of the cost of the original road was raised in just over 6 months.

How bad should the quality of the road be that it is being repaired thrice in 6 months?

Arappor Iyakkam, however, alleges no road was even laid in December.

When The Quint cross-checked with Corporation records, it confirmed the NGO’s claims that work was done for ‘restoration of road cut made by Chennai Metro Water.’

According to the Bus Routes Roads Department, roads are to be re-laid every 3 years. So how does that explain Rs 65 lakh spent in 6 months? A first re-laying usually costs around Rs 25 lakh. What does it say about the quality of the road repair if only six months later, Rs 65 lakh must be spent again?

And after all that expenditure, is Devanathan Street a model road? The answer is no. Times of India did a spot check on this key bus route road and found that a bus stop had been left dug up for more than a month, making it unsafe for both motorists and pedestrians.

All the lakhs spent on relaying hasn’t translated to fantastic results.

Arappor lyakkam is planning to file a formal complaint with the Ombudsman of Local bodies immediately and follow-up the case legally until the corrupt are brought to book.

Actor Kamal Haasan, who has been fearless in calling out the state government’s corrupt practices, tweeted lauding the NGO for their exposé .

The Quint reached out to the Corporation Commissioner and SP Velumani, Minister for Municipal Administration, Rural Development and Implementation of Special Programme, but they were unavailable for comment.

Also Read: Illegal Roads Are Choking Chennai’s Coastline

Corrupt Contractors Continue Damage

In February 2014, the Corporation conducted a series of tests on the quality of 1,300-odd roads, and one third of them failed. The then architect of the quality control initiative, Joint Commissioner Vijay Pingale, was held responsible for employing corrupt contractors.

From March 2015, the Chennai Corporation has listed the names of all the road contractors along with details of the roads, nature of repair, commencement and completion dates of the projects.

The Corporation has now listed the names of contractors along with their various projects.
The Corporation has now listed the names of contractors along with their various projects.
(Photo Courtesy: Chennai Corporation)

But these individual contractors almost never figure in any debate about the state of Chennai’s roads. They are never named or rated.

They have never been held up for potholed roads, except for once when the Corporation drew up a list of blacklisted contractors.

Will Better Roads Remain a Mirage?

It has become a standing joke in Chennai for students to tune into the news everyday during November and December and expect a holiday. Not always because of the rains, but the bad roads!

The images of the entire city submerged in water during the disastrous 2015 floods gives nightmares to residents even today. Because the problem is still unresolved. The floods, then followed by Vardah cyclone in 2016, exposed the archaic British laid sewage and stormwater drain system and poor urban planning.

Even the shortest spell of rains renders roads ridden with potholes, that a smooth ride during monsoon has become a rarity.

Also Read: Chennai Rains: Boats on Roads, Buses Under Water, It’s That Bad

Did the Droughts Help Reduce Damage?

The monsoon of 2017 was a much awaited one after a long summer of drought. The city’s four reservoirs had dried out completely and the monsoon helped fill up only one thirds. But when it came to the roads, they just got more battered and water-logged because after all they have been laid without abiding by the specified norms and so are bound to give in to pressure.

According to initial estimates by the Chennai Corporation, at least 15% of the 471 bus route roads were damaged.

Unfinished metro work has added to the difficulties. And sinkholes are so frequent as to no longer be news. Prominent roads like Anna Salai are caving in and there is very little that is being done to prevent such an incident.

State Just Doesn’t Get ‘Prevention Is Better Than Cure’

According to Deccan Chronicle, after this year’s monsoon, the restoration work was taken up in 32 roads by Public Works Department (PWD) and Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board. The inability of the departments to pay Rs 34 crore delayed the re-laying work. Corporation officials also claim that 80 percent of the roads that are now listed as ‘severely battered’ and ‘unusable’ have been delayed for the last five years because of non-payment.

But the solution is not re-laying. The roads needs to be desilted six months before the onset of the monsoon. Once the roads have been scraped of the layers of silt deposited, water is more able to percolate and flow to the sides. But this needs to be done well in advance of the rains, and constant maintenance must be performed throughout the monsoon season.

Re-laying roads is only a quick and temporary measure.

When will Chennai learn to be prepared, rather than sorry?

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NGO – Advantage India booked by CBI

The NGO, Advantage India, received Rs 90.72 crore from European missile manufacturer, MBDA, and aviation major Airbus.

The CBI says NGO, Advantage India,  its former vice president and four others misused CSR funds  received from European missile manufacturer, MBDA, and aviation major Airbus.

 

The CBI has filed an FIR against a non-government organisation, its former vice-president and corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar and four others for alleged misuse of CSR funds received from a leading European missile manufacturer, MBDA, and aviation major Airbus.

The investigation agency on Friday conducted searches at several locations in Delhi, including offices and residences associated with the NGO, Advantage India, and the accused, over alleged misuse of the corporate social responsibility funds amounting to Rs 90.72 crore.

They violated norms under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), said CBI spokesman Abhishek Dayal.

All NGOs are required to be registered under the FCRA with the home ministry to receive foreign funding.

CBI officials said it is matter of investigation as to why the NGO was donated huge funds by defence and aviation firms.

Talwar told HT that he has nothing to do with the NGO any more: “I am no longer associated with it.”

Home ministry sources said Advantage India was first registered under the Societies Registration Act in 1999 with R Chand as president and Deepak Talwar as vice president.

It got FCRA registration in 2003.

The income tax department had conducted searches at the NGO’s premises in June 2016 and submitted a report to the home ministry last April.

The HT accessed the report.

The investigators found the NGO had shown purchases of mobile medical units (MMUs) from Accordis Healthcare Private Limited. They suspected that the Accordis showed bogus expenses and over-priced the MMUs, allegedly bought with the CSR funds.

The CBI also named Accordis and its then managing director Raman Kapoor and representative Sunil Khandelwal as accused in the FIR.

It was also found that non-existent addresses were written on the invoices, bank statements and vouchers of Accordis.

The report further revealed the NGO provided over draft facility to the tune of Rs 6.30 crore against its fixed deposits to Wave Impex Private Limited, a company allegedly controlled by Talwar.

The MBDA and Airbus did not offer any comment.

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NGO writes to Trump on concern against Elephants Poaching

Wildlife SOS, an NGO based in India, has petitioned US Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke against President Donald Trump’s proposed move of lifting a 2014 ban on import of elephants trophies from two African nations.

 

On Thursday, the Trump administration had reversed an Obama-era ban to issue permits for elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe, which environmental groups said would lead to more poaching.

However, after facing criticism from animal rights activists, Trump had yesterday put on hold the decision to import elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe into the US to “review all conservation facts”.

Co-founder of Wildlife SOS Kartick Satyanarayan said, “The argument has no scientific justification. As an organisation based in India where the government permits no such trophy, we can attest there are many other scientific ways to help wild populations without the need to hunt them.”

There is a need to not remove the existing protection measures that are in place for them, he said in a statement.

Nikki Sharp of the NGO, stationed in the US, said, “The announcement came as a shock to all of us. It’s an insult to everyone working to protect and conserve elephants, in particular in light of this supposed reasoning behind the decision — that hunting of these animals will enhance the survival of the species in the wild.”

“It is a massive step backward that will have direct and lethal effects on elephants,” Sharp said.

The number of elephants in the wild plummeted 30 percent overall between 2007 and 2014, despite large scale conservation efforts. In some places it has dropped more than 75 percent due to ivory poaching.

In 2016, there were just over 3,50,000 elephants still alive in the wild, down from millions in the early 20th century.

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