The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, known popularly by its acronym as PM CARES Fund, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in order to deal “with any kind of emergency or distress situation,” has failed to give out the amount of Rs 100 crore it promised for the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
This came to light in response to a query filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
In response to the application by activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd.), the Union health ministry admitted: “So far, as information from [Health and Public Education] division is concerned, it is stated that no funds have been received from PM CARES Fund for vaccine development.”
Batra received the reply nearly four months after he filed his application, in July 2021, and after multiple reminders filed with various authorities, reported The Wire.
A press release from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) dated May 13, 2020, said that the Modi government will provide Rs 3,100 crore to help India’s fight against COVID-19. The release added: “To support the COVID-19 vaccine designers and developers, an amount of Rs 100 crore will be given from PM CARES Fund as a helping hand to catalyse vaccine development, which will be utilised under the supervision of Principal Scientific Advisor.”
Batra filed an application under the RTI Act with the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the health ministry on July 16, 2021, seeking details of expenses through the PM CARES Fund.
Specifically, he asked for the “financial year wise total amount of PM CARES Fund received by the Government of India for vaccine development relating to the COVID-19 pandemic”. He also sought the names of public authorities, companies, organisations, and entities involved in the vaccine development process.