SPORTS federations that have not registered themselves as NGOs with a NITI Aayog portal by Sunday will no longer be entitled to funds from the government.
Last month, government think-tank NITI Aayog told the Sports Ministry that National Sports Federations (NSFs) must be “treated as NGOs”. In a letter to the Sports Authority of India Secretary, S S Chhabra, dated September 30, 2016, Director (Sports) Sagar Preet Hooda said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was himself monitoring the “implementation of this initiative”.
In the letter, The Sunday Express has learnt, Hooda said, “NITI Aayog has categorically stated that NSFs are to be treated as NGOs. MYAS (Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports) has already sent a written communication to all NSFs in this respect. Sports Authority of India (SAI) is requested to release funds under ‘Scheme of Assistance to NSFs’ as per the guidelines prescribed by NITI Aayog.”
He added, “Instructions have been received from NITI Aayog that no money is to be released by any Ministry/Department to any NGO that is not registered with NITI Aayog NGO-PS Portal. The implementation of this initiative is being monitored by PM himself.” On October 24, SAI Executive Director Sudhir Setia wrote to all the federations saying, “You are requested to confirm the same (registering on the portal) at the earliest as release of funds to your federation by the SAI post October 30, 2016, will be subject to the receipt of said confirmation.”
While majority of the federations have acceded to the government order, several such as the All India Tennis Association (AITA) are waiting for now. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is learnt to be taking legal opinion, while the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is reported to be “concerned and confused” about the implications of getting itself registered as an NGO.
A senior IOA official confirmed they have been approached by several federations seeking clarity on the issue. “All the federations have received the notification from the Sports Ministry. Most of them have registered since we have been told it is being monitored directly by the PM. There are some serious concerns, though, and we will be discussing this during our executive board meeting in Chennai on November 4,” the official said.
The primary concern for most federations is what happens to the funding they receive from respective international federations. Said an AIFF office-bearer, “If we are registered as an NGO, we need to understand whether it will have any impact on the annual grants we receive from FIFA. We need to know the differences in the way an NGO receives foreign funding compared to a sports federation, since we are registered under the Societies Registration Act. We have sought legal opinion and also asked the IOA for assistance.”
A ministry official said the purpose of the new policy was to bring in more transparency in the way funds are utilised. He said that the federations will have to give details such as the names of their office-bearers, their address, registration details, PAN number, etc, after which a unique identification number would be generated. The NSFs will have to use this unique ID to apply for grants. “All information regarding the NSFs, including their projects and achievements, will be maintained online via the portal. It takes away our dependence on physical paperwork since everything will be done online. It will be easy to monitor as well,” the ministry official said.
NITI Aayog will reportedly conduct an annual review of every federation and also monitor them as per the prescribed guidelines. “Monitoring of schemes implemented through NGOs should be online, preferably supported by periodic field visits/checks of officials both from Centre and State and if necessary by outsourcing,” Niti Aayog’s Common Guidelines for the implementation of this policy read. “In case of default or misuse of funds by an NGO, the ministry/department may consider acquiring assets created from the grants-in-aid given to the NGO. Blacklisting of NGOs should also be resorted to in case of reasons cited above.”
Federations fear the aid they receive from international bodies will be under scrutiny. As per NITI Aayog guidelines, officials may conduct checks to monitor their schemes. In case of default, the ministry may consider acquiring assets or blacklisting them. The federations fear they might be answerable to CAG and Lokayukta.