Religious and education institutions are among the highest recipients of foreign funding, an apex body of voluntary organisations today claimed. In its study report on 'Status of the Voluntary Sector in India', which was released here, Voluntary Action Network of India (VANI) also alleged that instead of creating an enabling environment for the sector, the government was tightening its noose on voluntary organisations under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). "Nearly 19 per cent (Rs 1276.56 crore) of the foreign funds are pumped into education sector and religious bodies. "We were told by the government that money to the tune of Rs 10,500 crore were entering India in this sector. "We have been asking for the details but it is only in the last two years that we have had the detailed report from them and it clearly reveals who is getting the major funding from abroad," VANI CEO Harsh Jaitli said. "It is the religious bodies like mutts, dharamshalas, churches, religious foundations, corporate foundations, private schools hospitals etc, which are getting the major fund," Jaitli claimed. He also claimed that the government is tightening its grip on voluntary organisation as more than 4000 organisations got their registrations cancelled. "We were told by the FCRA department this was an effort to weed out the dormant and inactive FCRA registered organisations, or on account of non-submission of returns, change of address and not updating the same with the department concerned, or no reasonable activities in the last couple of years but things got caught up in bureaucracy and voluntary organisations suffered on their account," he said. On VANI's official website, the updated cancelled list of 4138 NGOs shows Tamil Nadu with the maximum number of cancellations at 794, followed by Andhra Pradesh (670), Kerala (450) and Maharashtra (352). VANI officials ascribed the rise in Tamil Nadu figures to the NGOs protesting against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in the state. "Voluntary organisations and NGOs which worked against corruption, nuclear issues and human rights violations are the worst sufferers, take what happened in the aftermath of the Koodankulam protests in Tamil Nadu," co-chairperson Farida Vahedi said. As least four NGOs were booked under FCRA for allegedly diverting foreign funds to aid the organisation of protests against the Koodankulam plant.
Their bank accounts were frozen, the report said.