Gujarat: FCRA cancellation forces NGO to lay off its 80-odd staff

Ahmedabad: Facing cash crunch after the cancellation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act licence, Gujarat-based NGO Navsarjan Trust, has sought resignation of its 80-odd employees and said that the three schools run by it shall be closed on Saturday.

Managing Trustee of Navsarjan Trust, Martin Macwan said the NGO, which was working for Dalit rights for the last 27 years, was unable to pay for the salaries of its staff after the Centre revoked its licence to get foreign funds under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

“It is impossible for us to pay salaries of our employees after the Centre cancelled our FCRA licence. We are facing acute cash crunch due to that move. Thus, we have asked all our 80-odd employees to tender their resignations,” Macwan said.

Macwan founded the NGO in 1989 to fight for the rights of Dalits and to take up issues that plague the community, such as manual scavenging and social boycott.

According to him, the NGO needs around Rs 2.75 crore annually to meet various expenses.

“We are largely dependent on the funds from foreign sources to meet our expenses, which runs into Rs 2.75 crore per annum. About 85 per cent of that comes from foreign countries. Now, as our FCRA licence has been cancelled, it is impossible to run our operations or to pay salaries from what we get from local sources,” said Macwan.

Apart from running various awareness programs for the upliftment of Dalits across the state, the NGO also runs three schools, one each in Ahmedabad, Surendranagar and Patan district. Now, these schools, where 102 students of 5th standard to 9th standard, are enrolled, are on the verge of closure, said Macwan.

“These three schools have 12 teachers who impart education to 102 students from extremely poor Dalit and tribal communities. Now, we have to shut these schools too, as we are unable to pay their salaries and meet other operational expenses. These teachers will be asked to leave only after the completion of this academic session,” said Macwan.

A week back, seven NGOs, including Navsarjan Trust, were barred by the Centre government from receiving foreign funds after their FCRA licences were cancelled following alleged adverse intelligence reports against them.

The decision had been taken after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) conducted an inquiry into the functioning of the NGOs whose FCRA licences were renewed in the recent past.

Official sources had claimed that there were adverse intelligence inputs against these NGOs, ranging from allegedly working against public interest by using foreign funds, painting the government as “anti- Dalit” abroad, besides others.

According to Macwan, Centre targeted his organisation because it highlighted the recent incident at Una town in Gir-Somnath district, where four Dalit youths were thrashed by cow vigilantes.

“It is evident that Centre was unhappy with us after we raised that issue on various platforms. We only tried to highlight the plight of Dalits. That is what we are doing since last 27 years. But, it seems that government wants us to propagate that everything is alright in their rule” said Macwan, who has planned to challenge the order in the court.