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Parivaar accuses National Trust of going soft on corruption allegation; Aloka Guha denies charge

D.N.I.S. News Network – Five months after a damning corruption scandal broke out regarding the registration of civil society organisations with the National Trust, Parivaar has accused the nodal body of being dismissive and undemocratic about the entire issue.

The issue came to light on 17 July 2005, when sleuths from Central Bureau of Investigation nabbed an employee in charge of registrations while accepting a bribe of Rs. 15,000. A trap was laid with the help of some Gujarat-based voluntary organisations, which had alleged corruption in the registration process.

The National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities offers registration to associations of persons with disability, associations of parents of persons with disability or voluntary organisations working in the field of Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities following payment of Rs. 500.

According to a newsletter published by Parivaar, the issue of pending registrations had been taken up with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on several occasions. Despite this, over 500 parents associations and voluntary organisations have been waiting for registration.

The newsletter also claims that when the National Trust Board members brought up the matter for discussion at a Board Meeting on 7 September 2005, the Chairperson of the Board dismissed the matter as “trivial”.

The National Trust Chairperson, Aloka Guha, however, has refuted the allegation and termed Parivaar’s outcry as interference in the autonomous working of the Trust.

“The episode is partly right and partly wrong. Yes, a person was arrested by the C.B.I. and we had discharged him from his service. He was only a temporary employee. This part is true. But the part about the Chairperson dismissing the right of Board Members raising any issue is totally false. A Member can raise any issue he or she wants,” she said.

“It is the Chairperson who had herself brought the matter to the notice of the Members. The claim that the Chairperson had used the term ‘Trivial’ as reported by Parivaar newsletter is totally false. I would also like to tell you that the Minutes of the Board Meeting have not yet been circulated, therefore Parivaar is in fact engaging in breach of the rules of secrecy.”

“Further the allegation that the National Trust had suspended registrations for over two years is also completely baseless as the registration is part of the statute of the National Trust and no one can stop or resume registrations.”

“The claim that 500 associations are waiting for registration is also completely false. We have been working hard with the help of a small team and disbursed crores of rupees but no one has pointed fingers at us in the past four years.”

“Just because one person has been caught taking bribe does not mean all those working so hard should also be projected in a bad light,” she asserted.