To celebrate three years of the NDA government as many as nine PSUs hosted 30 events in various parts of Gujarat, which began on May 26 and concluded Sunday. While the PSUs admit that the expense of the events has caused a drain on their event budget allocations, they say that getting a “foothold” in Gujarat is incentive enough. The total expenditure for the events in Gujarat is pegged at Rs 15 crore, according to PSUs. Some PSUs have spent up to Rs 50 lakh per event. The events held across the state were presided over by a union minister each, like Prakash Javdekar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani, Mansukh Mandaviy and JP Nadda.
A total of 336 events celebrating the three years of the NDA government were held across the country. Out of the 30 events in Gujarat, 18 were hosted by PSUs in the petroleum & natural gas sector and four in power.
A nodal officer from the P&NG says, “For us, Gujarat is of interest simply because it is the number one state in the country with petroleum reserves and so, the events that also give us a platform to network.”
For Javadekar’s Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas (SSSV) event in Mandvi of Surat district, on June 15, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) (Kawas-Surat) gave out a public notification through newspapers ads that stated NTPC has been given the responsibility to organise the event which will see “about 2000-3000 people” participating.
According to official estimates, each PSU that floated tenders for the event management, opened the bid at Rs 45 lakh. Thus, a nodal official from a petroleum sector PSU said, “Each event in Gujarat would have cost a minimum 45 lakh, which includes the cost of printing brochures, standees, backdrop and other promotional material, commissioning a video of the PSU based on the theme of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas to be played at the venue, rent, refreshments, electricity, and other logistical expenses.” By this estimate, the total cost of 30 SSSV events in Gujarat amounts to Rs 15 crore.
Most PSUs say that they view their alignment with the Central government’s celebration as an opportunity for image building.
K L Sharma, regional executive director, Western Region, Airports Authority of India, says, “We know that since we often go in for land acquisitions to build airports, people who lose their lands are not happy and they have a negative view about AAI. The event allowed us to showcase our own work through CSR and other activities. It was more an outreach programme.”
While National Highways Authority of India’s Rajkot Project Implementation Unit (PIU) director refused to give details about the budget of the sammelan it organised in Porbandar for Irani, Rajendra Kumar Bhati, director of NHAI PIU in Gir Somnath said a similar event in Veraval presided over by Irani cost his unit Rs 50 lakh. “The budget was around Rs 50 lakh. Our headquarters had approved it and we shall credit the expenditure under the head directed by our headquarter,” said Bhati.
The Somnath PIU is executing the project of widening Bhavnagar-Veraval section of the National Highway 51 to four lanes. It is a Rs 5,000-crore project to build a concrete road. The Amreli event, also presided over by Irani, was hosted by NTPC “as a publicity initiative” of the company.
“NTPC is organising 56 such sammelans in almost all the states of the country. Our unit organised one sammelan in Amreli as part of the drive. While we don’t have direct operations in Amreli, our customers are there in the district. Through the event, we go some direct publicity,” general manager of the Jhanor-Gandhar gas-based power plant D Basu told The Indian Express. He did not divulge detail of the Amreli expenses, saying they were yet to be calculated.
Some PSUs have said they hosted the events for “outreach” in Guarat, like Tehri HDC India Limited (THDCIL), which held the SSSV event at Patan on June 7, with Hari Chaudhary, MoS, MSME as chief guest.
The undertaking rented plush Utsav Party Plot at Chanasma Road in Patan for the event attended by about 2000 people, according to an official. The official website of THDCIL says, “This initiative will help the Corporation in wider stakeholders’ outreach in Gujarat, where THDCIL is operating two wind power pojects — 50MW at Patan and 63MW at Dwarka.”
Officials of Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), which has been given the responsibility to hold six SSSV events in Gujarat — Gandhinagar district, Junagadh City, Kheda, Navsari, Sabarkantha and Narmada — feel that associating with “rare” government events like SSSV helps build a rapport with the state administrative wing. An ONGC official says, “This kind of an event helps us build our own brand image and network with the administrative wing that would otherwise be unknown to us. When we organise such events from the scratch, it acquaints us with some officers who can help us in our own operation.”
According to this official, the central government handed out “Standard Operation Procedure (SOP)” which directed banners, standees, posters and videos that have to be played at the venue and were also given in advance “so that there was no discrepancy”.
“We were told to find a suitable venue, indoors or outdoors, to hold about 2500 people. Every PSU was asked to display their logo and put up standees of achievement and also play a 3-5 minute video highlighting the achievements of the PSU of three years towards the vision of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas”, the official said.