International Yoga Day is now akin to a national festival and the Centre and the States leave no stone unturned to make it a success. The Centre has spent about ₹140 crore on Yoga Day in the last five years.

The fifth International Yoga Day was organised on Friday and the main event in Ranchi, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saw a turnout of over 30,000 people.

According to official sources from the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), about ₹40 crore was spent on this year’s International Yoga Day. This is double the amount spent last year, which stood at ₹20 crore.

A reply to a RTI filed by BusinessLine revealed that the Centre had spent over ₹73 crore to organise the event during 2015-2017.

The RTI also revealed that apart from publicity, other major expense heads are calorie-laden snacks and sweets, supply of drinking water, mementos, stationery, setting up tents and other equipment, hiring transport and providing lodging and boarding for guests.

A case in point is expenditure incurred by the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga in 2016. Over ₹8 lakh was spent in three days, from June 20-22, under the head of ‘Catering services for VIP’ including breakfast, mid-meal, lunch, evening tea and dinner, for about 10,000 people.

A senior AYUSH official said, “It is yet not possible to ascertain the exact break-up of expenditure for 2019, as it is in the process of being calculated. But budget for us has never been a problem.”

A chunk of the AYUSH Ministry’s spending was on publicising the Yoga Day event both on Doordarshan and private channels, through radio jingles, print advertisements in major English and regional language newspapers as well as putting up hoardings including at key locations in New Delhi.

“AYUSH was allocated ₹64 crore for the publicity component for International Yoga Day last year, of which we have incurred the required expenditure,” said the official.

In 2019-20, allocation for the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) component in AYUSH is ₹52.60 crore.

Another ₹16 crore has been allocated for ‘International Co-operation, to support budgets of embassies that organise Yoga Day programmes.