PM-CARES FUND TO BUY VEN­TI­LA­TORS

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - FRONT PAGE - Saub­hadra Chat­terji let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: The PM CARES (Prime Min­is­ter’s Cit­i­zen As­sis­tance and Re­lief in Emer­gency Sit­u­a­tions) fund has an­nounced its first ever al­lot­ment — ₹3,100 crore on meet­ing the de­mand for ven­ti­la­tors, wel­fare of mi­grant work­ers, and sup­port­ing the am­bi­tious pro­gramme to de­velop a vac­cine.

In a state­ment, the gov­ern­ment said: “₹2,000 crore will be ear­marked for the pur­chase of ven­ti­la­tors, ₹1,000 crore will be used for care of mi­grant labour­ers and ₹100 crore will be given to sup­port vac­cine de­vel­op­ment.”

THE FIRST AL­LOT­MENT COMES JUST SIX WEEKS AFTER THE FUND WAS FORMED ON MARCH 27. THE FUND, SET UP AS A TRUST, IS HEADED BY PM NAREN­DRA MODI

NEWDELHI:The PM CARES (Prime Min­is­ter’s Cit­i­zen As­sis­tance and Re­lief in Emer­gency Sit­u­a­tions) fund an­nounced its first ever al­lot­ment on Wed­nes­day -- ~3,100 crore to be spent on meet­ing the de­mand for ven­ti­la­tors, wel­fare of mi­grant work­ers, and sup­port­ing the am­bi­tious pro­gramme to de­velop a vac­cine against Covid19 virus.

In a state­ment, the gov­ern­ment said: “₹2000 crore will be ear­marked for the pur­chase of ven­ti­la­tors, ₹1000 crores will be used for care of mi­grant labour­ers and ₹100 crores will be given to sup­port vac­cine de­vel­op­ment.”

The first al­lot­ment comes just six weeks after the fund was formed on March 27. The fund, set up as a trust, is headed by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi . Other ex-of­fi­cio mem­bers of the trust are De­fence Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh, home Min­is­ter Amit Shah and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man.

The PM—Chair­per­son of the Board of Trus­tees—shall have the power to nom­i­nate three trus­tees to the Board who are “em­i­nent per­sons in the field of re­search, health, sci­ence, so­cial work, law, pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion and phi­lan­thropy” a gov­ern­ment state­ment re­leased at the time of the fund’s cre­ation said.

The first al­lot­ment of ₹3100 crore comes hours after the fi­nance min­is­ter an­nounced the de­tails of the first tranche of the Cen­tre’s re­lief pack­age.

With tens and thou­sands of mi­grants flee­ing back to their states of domi­cile, ₹1000 crore will be given to states ; this will be at the dis­posal of the District Col­lec­tors/Mu­nic­i­pal Com­mis­sion­ers. They fund will be used to sup­port the states in “pro­vid­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion fa­cil­i­ties, mak­ing food ar­range­ments, pro­vid­ing med­i­cal treat­ment and mak­ing trans­porta­tion ar­range­ments of the mi­grants,” the state­ment added.

The money will be di­vided be­tween the states on the ba­sis of their pop­u­la­tion and num­ber of Covid-19 cases. “State/UT-wise funds will be re­leased on the weigh­tage of (a) Pop­u­la­tion of the State/UT as per 2011 Cen­sus – 50%, weigh­tage (b) Num­ber of pos­i­tive Covid-19 cases as on date – 40% weigh­tage and (c) Equal share (10% weigh­tage) for all states/UTs to en­sure ba­sic min­i­mum sum for all states,” it said.

The fund will be used to pur­chase 50,000 ‘Made-in-In­dia’ ven­ti­la­tors to aug­ment the in­fra­struc­ture for tack­ling the Covid pan­demic. These ven­ti­la­tors will be pro­vided to gov­ern­ment-run Covid hos­pi­tals in all States/UTs.

While a large part of the fund will be used for im­me­di­ate re­quire­ments, the gov­ern­ment is also keen on de­vel­op­ing an in­dige­nous vac­cine. Point­ing out that a vac­cine against Covid-19 is the “most press­ing need” and that In­dian academia, start-ups and in­dus­try have come to­gether to wok on cut­ting-edge vac­cine de­sign and de­vel­op­ment, PM CARES fund plans to spend ₹100 crore ton this ini­tia­tive. The PM’s Prin­ci­pal Sci­en­tific Ad­vi­sor will su­per­vise the util­i­sa­tion.

The PM Cares fund has at­tracted con­tri­bu­tions from large com­pa­nies. The cre­ation of the fund has gen­er­ated some con­tro­versy with sev­eral op­po­si­tion par­ties won­der­ing about why the PM’s Na­tional Re­lief Fund wasn’t be­ing used for this. Some chief min­is­ters have raised ob­jec­tions about con­tri­bu­tions by com­pa­nies to the PM Cares fund be­ing el­i­gi­ble for spends un­der Cor­po­rate So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity ac­tiv­i­ties, but those to the chief min­is­ters’ funds not be­ing el­i­gi­ble. The gov­ern­ment has said that the fund will be au­dited by in­de­pen­dent au­di­tors, and not the Comptrolle­r and Au­di­tor Gen­eral of In­dia. The cur­rent cor­pus of the fund isn’t known.

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