October 27th, 2017
India’s leading public sector oil companies have contributed over Rs 121 crore towards the construction of the Statue Of Unity (SOU) – a gigantic statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai In Gujarat – as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity in FY17, said a report by The Livemint.
The country’s four public sector oil companies – Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC), Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd, (HPCL) Indian Oil Corp (IOCL) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) – recorded their contributions towards the Statue of Unity project as a part of their CSR activity in FY 17, said their annual reports.
Contributions under CSR in FY 17
Contributions were as follows. ONGC reported a contribution of Rs 50 crore, OIL and HPCL contributed Rs 25 crore each whereas IOCL contributed Rs 21.83 crore. These contributions have resulted in a three-fold jump in terms of CSR spending by the top 100 National Stock Exchange-listed firms in FY 17 under National heritage Initiatives as compared to a previous fiscal year.
According to data analysis by Goodera, a CSR and sustainability management platform, the annual reports of 92 companies were available until September 18. The data points out that in comparison to Rs 46.51 crore spent in FY 16, a total Rs 155.78 crore was spent on national heritage initiatives.
What is CSR
Every company must have a CSR Committee of the Board of Directors consisting three or more directors. The Committee formulates and recommends to the Board, a CSR Policy. This CSR policy shall entail all the spending to be done and the activities which must be undertaken. This Board shall also monitor the CSR activities of the company.
PSUs “directed” to pay
According to a report by The Indian Express, following instructions from the Petroleum Ministry, oil and gas PSUs will pay at least Rs 200 crore for the Statue of Unity, the 182-metre tall Statue Of Unity.
An agenda note, approved by Chairman and Managing Director, “Other oil sector PSU, particularly IOC, has already been directed to contribute in tune of Rs 50 crore for this project. Other than ONGC and IOC, other oil sector PSUs are contributing Rs 25 crore. By taking into consideration, the total cost of the project, we may consider the proposal for a grant for Rs 50 crore.” A GAIL India official confirmed that the instructions were given by the Ministry for all oil and gas companies to help the project in a “collaborative mode”.
Backlash received from all quarters
The Statue of Unity is a memorial dedicated to the Independence movement leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who also was the first Home Minister of India. The Statue Of Unity will be installed at the Sadhu Bet Island in Gujarat’s Narmada district. It will be the tallest statue in the world. The foundation stone of the statue was laid by Gujarat’s then Chief Minister, Narendra Modi. It was proposed to be constructed at a cost of about Rs 2,989 crore with a targeted completion date set October 2018.
Amita Joseph, director, Business Community Foundation (BCF), a civil society organisation working on promoting the responsible practice, criticised the CSR spending on SOU as a “violation of the intention” of the CSR Law of Companies Act of 2013. She said, “This is taxpayers money, both public sector companies and private sector companies need to be accountable”. She further enumerated such CSR spending as one of “misplaced priorities” in a country that is in desperate better education, safety, public infrastructure, health and basic amenities.
Former Director General and CEO of the think tank Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, said that national heritage category was introduced in the CSR rules in order to bring the businesses to come under the development ambit. It was brought to allow these companies to work for National Development Programs.
He further added, “It is not something which involves the poorest of poor, but it was done to see how the corporate sector would contribute to the preservation of our cultural heritage”.
Read more here: The Livemint