India committed Covid-19 aid to 150 countries, says PM Modi; RTI says 81
Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a United Nations forum in mid-July that India has extended medical and other assistance to over 150 countries in the wake of Covid-19 but an RTI response has shown that New Delhi has committed aid only to 81 countries to the tune of Rs 97.73 crore as on the first week of August.
Of this, aid worth Rs 69.72 crore were delivered till August 5.
Among the countries, the response by the Ministry of External Affairs to transparency activist Venkatesh Nayak showed, China with whom India is locked in an intense boundary dispute was one of the highest beneficiaries receiving the whole committed aid worth Rs 1.87 crore as on August 5.
Interestingly, the RTI response showed that India spent Rs 4.24 crore in transporting the aid worth Rs 1.87 crore. Nayak had filed the RTI in May but received the reply only in September.
However, the RTI response is in variance with a written reply tabled by Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan in Lok Sabha on March 18 when he said India had sent medical aid worth Rs 2.11 crore to China.
The Government of India provided 15 tonnes of medical assistance comprising one lakh pieces of surgical masks, five lakh gloves, 75 infusion pumps, 30 enteral feeding pumps, 21 defibrillators and 4,000 N-95 masks worth Rs 2.11 crore on February 26, Muraleedharan had said. The aid was delivered by an Indian Air Force C-17 special flight which landed in Wuhan.
The RTI response is also in variance with the Prime Minister's address at the high-level segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) session on July 17 when he said, "in our joint fight against Covid-19, we have extended medical and other assistance to over 150 countries".
However, the MEA has only provided the list of 81 countries to which New Delhi has promised aid as on August 5.
"The Prime Minister has said India has sent assistance to 150 countries. But data updated much later by MEA is limited to 81 countries. So we do not know which are the other 70 countries to which India supplied medical and other relief supplies in the fight against Covid-19," Nayak told DH.
According to the RTI, India committed to Myanmar the highest aid worth Rs 6.89 crore of which aid worth Rs 5.84 crore was delivered by the first week of August. Nepal came second with aid worth Rs 6.78 crore committed and Rs 3.93 crore worth aid delivered.
Among the neighbours, Bangladesh came third with Rs 3.97 crore aid committed out of which aid worth Rs 3.61 crore has been delivered. While Afghanistan was promised aid worth Rs 2.23 crore, only aid worth Rs 29 lakh was delivered.