Coca-Cola-NDTV telethon raises Rs.7 crore for school infra

September 19th, 2011 - 12:31 am ICT by IANS  

Sachin Tendulkar Mumbai, Sep 18 (IANS) Aided by three big-ticket donations in the closing stages, a 12-hour Coca-Cola-NDTV Support My School telethon here Sunday raised Rs.7 crore, exceeding the target by Rs.2 crore. Now 139 schools across the country - against the targeted 100 schools - will benefit from the creation of basic facilities, particularly toilets for girl students.

Of the three major donations, the largest, Rs.1.35 crore, came from UNHABITAT, Rs.1 crore from Nita Ambani on behalf of the Reliance Foundation, and Rs.70 lakh from an unnamed NRI from Singapore.

“I think we have touched a chord that even 65 years after Independence, we haven’t been able to provide separate toilets for girl students in government schools. As a next step, we now pledge to visit each chief minister to urge them to provide in their next budgets Rs.50 crore to Rs.100 crore for creating basic infrastructure in government schools,” said NDTV chief Pranoy Roy as he wound up the telethon.

Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who spent almost nine hours on the show giving valuable tips to batches of Mumbai school students and repeatedly appealing for donations, made a personal contribution of Rs.500,000 each on behalf of his children Arjun and Sara.

Among the other last-minute pledges were Rs.10 lakh each by actors Sanjay Dutt, who also spent considerable time on the show, and Ajay Devgn.

The money will be used, at Rs.500,000 per school, for creating toilets for girls and facilities for drinking water, rainwater harvesting, and sports and games in each of the schools.

When the show started at 9 a.m., just Rs.1.26 crore had been pledged for the initiative, launched in January and which has been spent on creating facilities in 26 schools.

“It is important that the entire nation gets together for this initiative. Our target is 100, which we hope to achieve over the course of the day,” Tendulkar said after NDTV anchor Vikram Chandra launched the telethon.

In the end, the figure was far exceeded, with pledges being made at regular intervals.

The first indication that the target could be exceeded came around noon when Rotary District 3010, which has already pledged Rs.800,000 on behalf of Rotary International, announced a further Rs.25 lakh.

Then, six Coca-Cola bottlers pledged Rs.40 lakh between them and finally, as the show was about to conclude and Rs.6.95 crore had been pledged, Pranoy Roy announced a contribution from NDTV.

In between, international publishing house Pearson pledged to create 500 book libraries in 100 schools while invertor maker Luminous pledged 100 inverters and batteries. Both said they would raise the number if required.

The entire show was telecast on all NDTV channels until the news of the 6.8-magnitude quake on the Sikkim-Nepal border rocking the northern parts of India came Sunday evening.

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