Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) have been termed as white elephants for a long time. They are not fulfilling their expected mandate is the implied meaning of this; forget about the contributing to the social and national cause. The PSUs, especially under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, perhaps have decided to get away with the ‘liability tag’. The recent restoration of Veer Savarkar Flame at the Cellular Jain in Andaman by the Indian Oil Foundation (IOF) is a classic example of this.
The story began in the year 2000 when the IOF was created as a non-profit trust with the objective of protecting, preserving and promoting this glorious past. In collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the National Culture Fund of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India the foundation decided to adopt at least one heritage site in every State and Union Territory with an initial corpus of Rs. 25 crore and an annual contribution of Rs. 10 crore, exclusively by the Indian Oil. In 2004 itself, IOF erected a plaque in the memory of Veer Savarkar at the Cellular Jail where the great revolutionary spent 16 years of life as a freedom fighter. With the advent of UPA rule, the plaque was removed from there to insult one of the greatest sons of Mother Bharat. At the same time, the whole Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives took a back seat. The NDA government under Prime Minister Modi has revived the spirit of this responsibility which is paying great dividend through the implementation of various government programmes by these PSU led initiatives. The CSR Rules that came into existence on April 1, 2014 state that firms with a net worth of Rs 500 crore or revenue of Rs 1,000 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore spend 2 per cent of their average profit in the past three years on social development-related activities listed in Schedule VII of the Rules. This has certainly boosted the possibility of substantial contribution by the PSUs for the social sector.
The IOF initiative is not limited to protection and promotion of the culture but extended to various social programmes. In January this year, Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurated the Golden Jubilee Skill Development Centre Dakshata, which has been set up in Indian Oil’s Barauni Refinery Township in partnership with CII. The Centre is training about 400 youth in a year in selected trades, creating employment avenues for them. Several other initiatives have also been launched for the benefit of the neighbouring villagers like Nishakt Sahayata Yojana for providing artificial limbs and medical assistance to physically challenged, Surya Jyoti Yojana for distribution of solar lanterns, Balika Uthhan Yojana which aims to encourage girl students through distribution of educational aids and Pashu Swasthya Sanrakshan Yojana for improving the health of village cattle through mobile veterinary clinics, ultimately ushering in prosperity for the village communities.
The story of taking additional responsibility is not limited to IOF. While replying to a question in Lok Sabha during the budget session, the Minister informed that the idea of setting up Skill Development Institute in different regions of the country. Oil India Ltd. (OIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) hasve volunteered to take up one such project in North-East India with outlay of Rs 99.51 crore and 19.97 crore each in the state of Assam. Under Swach Vidhyala Abhiyan, ONGC has successfully completed the construction and renovation work of 8202 toilets in 5995 schools across 10 states of the country. Hartoki water project, which is 60 kms North West of Aizwal, the capital of Mizoram, is credited as one of the most unique projects which is designed in a way that the entire village of more than 500 households get non-stop running water without using any electricity. It is through the gravity that water from the fountainhead now reaches the massive tank near the village and from there to each household. The project involved the challenge of laying 5 kilometre long pipeline from across the river and connecting to each household apart from the massive 1.7 Lakhs litre tank constructed at the hill-top just above the village, in partnership with Public Health Engineering Department of Mizoram.
GAIL, the largest gas transmission and marketing company in Bharat has spent Rs 160.56 crore on various projects such as, Installation of mechanised laundry in Govt. General Hospital, Kakinada, East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh, E-Shiksha – Computer Literacy to Youth in various Villages through Mobile Van in Guna District of Madhya Pradesh and Providing individual solar lighting system in 1000 houses of village Bhagyanagar, Ajitmal, and Achalda Block of Auraiya District of Uttar Pradesh. This financial year total allocated CSR Budget of GAIL is Rs.162.63 Cr which is 2.7 per cent more than the previous year. Similar initiatives are taken up by the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) in the fields of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, Rain Water Harvesting an Education in the 26 backward districts of 7 states. HPCL has taken forward Swavalamban (Self Reliance), Suraksha (Security) and Unnati (progress) schemes with the partnership of CII, Transport Corporation of India Foundation and NIIT respectively in 35 districts of 14 states.
All these initiatives are set to change the narrative about the functioning of the PSUs. The organisations generally perceived to be inefficient and non-responsive are actively coming forward to contribute and carry forward various government schemes. Such integral approach of implementing flagship programmes for addressing the critical issues before the nation can transform the delivery mechanism of services. If these PSUs continue to carry this additional responsibility, besides their stated mandate, their CSR models can become role models of Collective Social Responsibility for other organisations. – Oganiser Bureau