New Delhi: Voluntary Action Network India (VANI), a grouping of voluntary organizations, has expressed concerns over the home ministry’s silence regarding renewal of licences under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010.

The deadline for renewals is 31 October and VANI has petitioned the ministry to extend the deadline to 31 December as many organisations have not received any response on renewal applications submitted over the past one year.

The FCRA, a product of the emergency era, is monitored and implemented by home affairs ministry. The act governs the flow of foreign funds to not-for-profit organisations and has been in the spotlight since mid-2014 with high-profile organizations such as Greenpeace India, Ford Foundation, Sabrang Trust and Lawyers’ Collective being accused of violating its provisions.

The act stipulates that voluntary organizations registered under it need to renew their foreign funding licenses every five years or face cancellation.

The renewal process began in April 2016, requiring FCRA-registered organizations to apply before 31 June. Their licences are to become invalid by 31 October, implying that those approved by the government would receive their renewed licences by the end of October 2016.

“A sizeable number of FCRA registered organizations still await an inkling of communication from the FCRA department of MHA," VANI said in a statement on Friday.

The web-page of the ministry’s renewal portal for FCRA said the applications are ‘under process’, VANI added.

With the deadline drawing closer, uncertainty looms large in the sector. According to VANI, “Many voluntary organizations will have to cease their operations from November 2016 as validity for holding an FCRA license will stand in violation of the act."

VANI said non-renewal of licences of a large number of not-for-profit organisations would impact social development projects of the government. Government schemes and programs such as Swachh Bharat, Beti Bachao, Polio immunisation among many others are implemented in partnership with not-for-profit organisations on the ground.

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