Maharashtra to probe shady Covid-19 relief fund collection

Mumbai, April 15 (IANS) The Maharashtra government has taken serious note of complaints, alleging illegal collection of relief funds in the name of Covid-19 pandemic by certain organisations, according to officials here on Wednesday.

Following a specific complaint to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta asked the Home Department to take necessary action, said lawyer Vinod Tiwari, the complainant.

In his representation, the lawyer presented several social media posts and calls seeking funds for providing coronavirus relief.

“Most of these are solicited by registered or unregistered organisations, certain political parties, some media, individuals or entities without any credential checks by the authorities, like the Collector. This is in violation of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, Section 53/54 and also the Income-Tax Act rules,” Tiwari told IANS.

He said such collections were nothing but ‘unjust enrichment’ by some elements out to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic, as there were no accounts available of how much was collected or spent, and for what purposes.

“Besides, this is directly hampering the official fund-raising drive by the Chief Minister Relief Fund-Covid-19 or the PM-CARES Funds, which should be the only such means as accountable and permissible,” Tiwari said.

He said similar shady fund collection drives were on all over the country, which must be immediately stopped and be acted against in the public interest.

Seeking the government intervention, he demanded seizure of all the illicit amounts collected by such entities, sealing their bank accounts and transferring the funds to the official PM-CARES Fund or the CMRF-Covid-19, besides initiation of criminal action against all them.

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