WE PAY FOR INDIA'S ROCKET TO MARS ANGER erupted last night after India unveiled plans to launch a mission to Mars while receiving Â£280million a year in aid from Britain. The Â£50million project aims to put an unmanned spacecraft into orbit around the red planet next year. The ambitious plan was announced by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a speech to mark the 65th anniversary of his countryâ€™s ind-ependence from British rule. Critics last night demanded an immediate end to British aid for India, which totals Â£1.6billion and is scheduled to continue until at least 2015. Tory MP Philip Davies said: â€œThis is a perfect illust-ration of why it is absolutely ridiculous for us to be giving nearly Â£300million a year in aid to India. If they can afford to have some high-tech mission to Mars they can afford to look after their own people without British taxpayers having to put their hands in their pockets for money they havenâ€™t got.â€ Euro-MP Paul Nuttall, of the UK Independence Party, said: â€œIt is utterly galling that our Government begs for India to accept hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayersâ€™ money in aid. â€œThe Indians donâ€™t want it, the Indians donâ€™t need it. If Indiaâ€™s future is a mission to Mars, our future should be to find more suitable recipients for our aid, maybe our own people.â€ And Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayersâ€™ Alliance said: â€œTaxpayers expect aid to help the worldâ€™s poorest, not end up in countries rich enough to launch a mission to Mars.â€ Anger has been growing since David Cameron pledged to continue increasing the overseas aid budget despite cuts to virtually every other department. The Coalition is committed to raising Britainâ€™s aid budget to 0.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product by 2014, increasing the annual handout from Â£7.8billion this year to Â£11.5billion by 2015. All other Whitehall departments, apart from Health, are seeing their budgets cut by up to a fifth over the same period. Polls show around two thirds of voters think Britain already spends too much on foreign aid. Critics have repeatedly pointed out that India is rapidly turning into an economic powerhouse and has nuclear weapons, a space programme and an overseas aid budget of its own. The Coalition announced earlier this year that Britainâ€™s aid programme to India will cease after 2015. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said at the time: â€œI completely understand why people question the aid programme to India and we questioned it ourselves.â€ Even Indiaâ€™s president Pranab Mukherjee has said his country does not need Britainâ€™s money and declared the annual contribution to be worth â€œpeanutsâ€. Despite a booming economy, however, millions of Indians still live in poverty and do not have access to safe drinking water or electricity. Two weeks ago the power grids serving more than 600 million people crashed in the worldâ€™s biggest blackout. India has had a space programme since the Sixties and has launched scores of satellites. In 2008 it sent a spacecraft into orbit around the moon. The Mars rocket will blast off in November next year and is expected to take around 11 months to get close enough to the planet to collect data for scientists. A DFID spokesperson said: "British aid is not used to fund India's space programme. Our development aid to India is earmarked for specific purposes like tackling child malnutrition, providing malaria bednets and secondary education for Dalit girls. Andrew Mitchell personally ensured that the programme was overhauled to reflect India's rising resources, and to ensure that it represents good value for money for the British taxpayer. Our work is now focused in three of the poorest states and by 2015 about half of the programme will focus on private sector investment to help the people out of poverty. As Andrew Mitchell has said, we won't be in India forever, we are walking the final mile. The Indian government has made great progress on tackling poverty but there is still huge need."