PSUs devote over Rs121 crore of CSR funds towards ‘Statue of Unity’

Interesting news:

India’s leading public sector oil companies contributed over Rs121 crore towards the construction of the ‘Statue of Unity’ (SOU)—a gigantic statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat—as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) spend during the fiscal year 2017.

According to their annual reports, the country’s four public sector oil companies – Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC), Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL), Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOCL) and Oil India Ltd (OIL)—recorded contributions towards the SOU project as part of their CSR activity in FY17.

ONGC reported a contribution of Rs 50 crore; OIL and HPCL of Rs 25 crore each; and IOCL donated Rs21.83 crore.

These contributions resulted in three-fold jump in CSR spends by the top 100 National Stock Exchange-listed firms by market capitalization in FY17 under National Heritage initiatives as compared to the previous fiscal year.

As per data analysed Goodera (previously NextGen), a CSR and sustainability management platform, the reports of 92 companies were available until 18 September. The data shows a total of Rs 155.78 crore was spent on national heritage initiatives in FY17, compared to Rs 46.51 crore in FY16.

“The reason for a spike is increased investment by PSUs, which have spent 70% of the Rs 156 crore. Government policies have created an enabling environment for this sector, as in the case of Statue of Unity project. PSUs happened to be the first movers, wherein three organizations – Indian Oil Corporation, ONGC and Hindustan Petroleum, have together contributed over Rs 98 crore for the Statue of Unity project, which is two thirds the total spend in the heritage sector,” said Richa Bajpai, Founder and Co-CEO, Goodera.

This was opposed earlier but then contribution towards National Heritage was included in CSR:

The CSR spends on SOU was criticised as a “violation of the intention” of the CSR law & Companies Act of 2013 by Amita Joseph, Director Business Community Foundation (BCF), a civil society organization working on promoting responsible business practice

“This is taxpayer money, and both public sectors (companies) and governments need to be accountable,” she said, describing the case as one of “misplaced priorities” in a country that is in desperate need of better education, healthcare, basic amenities, safety and public infrastructure.

Bhaskar Chatterjee, former Director General and CEO of the think tank Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) said the national heritage category was introduced into the CSR rules in order to bring businesses within the development ambit, and allow them to work for national development programmes.

“It is one of the few items which do not relate to the poorest of the poor, but the idea was to see how the corporate sector could contribute to the preservation of our cultural heritage.”

It is so important to read the fine print of such rules here. The Governments continues to find innovative ways to get funds from PSUs….



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