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 Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel which is being installed at the Sadhu Bet island, 3.5 km south of the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia in Narmada district of Gujarat. While Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Indian Oil Corp (IOC) will contribute Rs 50 crore each out of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds, other profit-making public sector undertakings (PSUs) have been told to pay Rs 25 crore each.
“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 grant of Rs 50 crore,” says the agenda note, approved by Chairman and Managing Director, ratified by the ONGC board in April. A GAIL India official confirmed that instructions were given by the Ministry last March for all oil and gas companies to support the project in “a collaborative mode”.
“It was conveyed at a CSR review meeting. No written order was issued,” the official said. Oil India Ltd, GAIL India Ltd, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum have approved Rs 25 crore each for the project, taking the collective contribution so far to Rs 200 crore. This would take care of nearly a fifth of the planned expenditure of Rs 1,040 crore for the Statue of Unity in financial year 2017-18. When asked about these directions, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum, K D Tripathi, declined to comment.
ONGC said the project’s admissibility for CSR funds under Schedule VII of the Companies Act was “well covered” under promoting education, health and hygiene especially for tribal populace among others…ensuring environmental sustainability and protection of national heritage, art and culture. The agenda note also cites Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s suggestion that ONGC can “reposition its CSR funds to meet Department of Public Enterprises’ directives to spend 33 per cent of CSR budget on Swachh Bharat activities”.
The agenda paper shows that 14 state-run Gujarat companies had extended Rs 104.88 crore as financial support for the project. Among them, top donors include Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (Rs 17 crore); Gujarat State Financial Services Ltd (Rs 15.88 crore); Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (Rs 15 crore); Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited and Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (Rs 10 crore each).
Under construction since October 2014, the statue is envisaged as the world’s tallest when completed. Its contract was awarded to Larsen and Toubro for Rs 2989 crore with a targeted completion date of October 2018. The statue complex is planned to be spread over 20,000 square m of project area and will be surrounded by an artificial lake.