Skip to main content

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.
Taking strong exception to CPSEs funding the project, CAG said, “The contribution towards construction of Statue did not qualify as CSR activity as per schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013”. The CPSEs funded the project under item (v) of schedule VII Act, which talks of protecting “national heritage, art and culture, including restoration of buildings and sites of historical importance and works of art; setting u public libraries and development of traditional arts and handicrafts.”
Giving details, the CAG report notes, “Government of Gujarat implemented a project named ‘Statue of unity’ through a Government of Gujarat organisation named ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET)’ for commemorating the contribution of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.”
Pointing out that “the contract for the work was awarded to Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Ltd in October 2014 at a total project cost of Rs 2,989 crore with targeted completion by October 2018”, CAG states, “As per the detailed proposal, the project comprised of construction of i) 182 meter high bronze plated statue of Sardar Patel which would be the world’s tallest statue, ii) Memorial and Visitor’s Centre, Gardens and iii) Convention Centre named ‘Shresth Bharat Bhawan’.”
The report says, “The trust approached five of the CPSEs viz. Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOC), and Oil India Limited (OIL) to participate in the project and contribute substantial funds, as there was a shortfall of funds for the year 2016-17 to the extent of Rs 780 crore.”
“Thereafter”, says the report, “All the five CPSEs contributed a total of Rs 146.83 crore (ONGC Rs 50 crore, IOCL Rs 21.83 crore, BPCL, HPCL and OIL Rs 25 crore each) towards this project under CSR.”
Taking objection to the contribution, the report states, “The activity was shown under item (v) of Schedule VII i.e protection of national heritage, art and culture. Contribution towards this project did not qualify as CSR activity as per schedule VII of the Companies Act 2013 as it was not a heritage asset.”
It further says, the management of ONGC, in its reply “stated that the project included activities such as promotion of education, development of banks of River Narmada up to Bharuch etc.”
Similarly, “The management of BPCL, HPCL & IOCL stated in their reply that as per Circular No. 21/2014 issued by MCA they interpreted the activity liberally to capture the essence of the subjects enumerated in the Schedule VII of Companies Act 2013”, it adds.
The report further observes that an amount of Rs 50 crore was “given to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET) as contribution towards corpus of the Trust”, which would be incur the expenditure for the trust’s activities. CAG underlines, “The fact remained that the contribution towards construction of Statue did not qualify as CSR activity as per schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013.”

Medha Patkar protests

Taking note of the CAG report, top social activist Medha Patkar of the anti-dam Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), in a statement has said that L&T was given the contract to build the Sardar statue at the original cost of Rs 2,063 crore.
“Finding that there was a shortfall funds, the then chief minister Narendra Modi first undertook a campaign to collect iron from across the country. But funding that this was a miserable failure, L&T gave the sub-contract for iron to the Chinese company TQ”, the statement said.
When Modi found that the funds were still short by Rs 780 crore, he “forced the CSPEs to give over Rs 780 crore for the project”, Patkar said, wondering whether the money would be returned to the CPSEs, and if this amount would be spent on public good.
She said, the irony is that, while such huge amount is being spent on the Sardar statue for promoting tourism, “why nothing is being spent on education and development of the villages on the banks of the Narmada river”, adding, “While six villages were totally uprooted for building the dam, now 70 villages in the neighbourhood face the danger on account of developing tourism in the region.”

Comments

Niranjan Dave said…
Who cares for CAG?At least not this government
vaghelabd said…
Recover the illegal donation from the Culprit Board of Directors of Oil Companies.

TRENDING

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Mukesh Ambani's earnings during Covid 'can lift' 40% informal workers out of poverty

By Dr Gian Singh*  The Inequality Virus Report released by Oxfam, a non-profit organization, on January 25, 2021 on the growing inequalities in different parts of the world, sheds light on the growing economic, educational, healthcare and gender inequalities in India. The report has revealed that the wealth of billionaires has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in the country.

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

No Election Commission safeguard against electromagnetic hacking of EVM: Study

Counterview Desk  Releasing a new study simultaneously in Chennai and Kolkata in view of the forthcoming elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the Citizens’ Commission on Elections (CCE) – a civil society initiative – has regretted “lack of integrity of EVM voting”, pointing out, the Election Commission of India (ECI) does not appear to safeguard against the possibilities of ‘side-channel attacks’, i.e, hacking electronic devices through electromagnetic and other methods.

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

'Viability' of agricultural cooperatives vs govt proposed pro-corporate economic model

Dr Gian Singh* The farmer struggle started from Punjab against the promulgation of three agricultural ordinances by the Union government in June 2020 and the enactment of three bills by Parliament in September 2020 to replace these ordinances is unique in many respects. There is no other example of such a peaceful and democratic farmer struggle.

Whither right to food? Social security scheme allocation for woman, child 'reduced'

Counterview Desk Pointing out that women and children have been ignored in the Union Budget 2021-22, the advocacy group Right to Food Campaign (RtFC) has said that the Government of India should have taken into account the fact that even after the lockdown was lifted, distress among marginalized communities continues, with people having lower incomes and reduced food consumption.

NAPM extends support to Indian, Aussie citizen groups 'opposing' Adani ventures

#StopAdani action in Australia  Counterview Desk  The civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), extending solidarity to the global campaign by the Youth Action to Stop Adani (YAStA), held in recently in Australia and India, has said that the effort was to bring more attention to the struggle aboriginal, indigenous peoples, farmers, working class and other oppressed communities against allegedly anti-people multinational corporate conglomerates.