Did PSUs Pay Rs 2,500 Crore for Construction of Statue of Unity?
Social media posts claim that PSUs paid for Rs 2,500 crore for the construction of the Statue of Unity in Gujarat.
Since its inauguration on 31 October by PM Narendra Modi, the Statue of Unity has made headlines repeatedly, owing to its enormous size (182 m) and hefty construction cost (Rs 2,989 crore).
Now, many social media posts claim that Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) were “made to” pay nearly Rs 2,525 crore from their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for the construction of the statue.
WHAT’S THE CLAIM?
The posts, purportedly based on an article in Marathi newspaper Loksatta, claim that the PSUs had "voluntarily" paid for the structure out of their CSR funds.
Some of the major contributors, as listed in the post, included Indian Oil Corporation (Rs 900 crore), ONGC (Rs 500 crore), Bharat Petroleum (Rs 250 crore), Oil India Corporation (Rs 250 crore), GAIL (Rs 250 crore), Power Grid (Rs 125 crore), Gujarat Minerals Development Corporation (Rs 100 crore), among others.
The post, which says “most of the funders are oil sector PSUs”, slams the government for relying on the public sector companies at a time when “India is literally crying for reduction in oil prices.”
“This is how our Oil sector PSUs are made to splurge their money!” the posts reads.
TRUE OR FALSE?
The claims are partly true, but severely exaggerated. While it is accurate that the PSUs contributed to the construction of the Sardar Patel statue, the amounts have been increased manifold.
The CAG, in a 2018 report of the Union Government’s Central Public Sector Enterprises, says a total of Rs 146.83 crore was spent by five PSU firms for the construction of the statue.
The report says the ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust (SVPRET)’ had approached five CPSEs – ONGC, IOCL, BPCL, HPCL and OIL – to participate in the project and contribute substantial funds as there was a shortfall of Rs 780 crore for the year 2016-17.
Thereafter, all the five CPSEs contributed a total of 146.83 crore, according to the report.
The individual contributions towards this project under CSR were:
ONGC - Rs 50 crore; IOCL - Rs 21.83 crore; BPCL, HPCL, OIL - Rs 25 crore each.
The purported CSR activity was classified under the “protection of national heritage, art and culture.”
However, the CAG report says the contributions "did not qualify as CSR activity as per schedule VII of the Companies Act 2013 as it was not a heritage asset.”
The Centre had reportedly shelled out Rs 300 crore for the project, according to a report by The New Indian Express. Meanwhile, Rs 550 crore was given by the central and state PSUs, private companies and individuals as donations. The remaining expenditure was borne by the Gujarat government.
The Statue of Unity was unveiled by PM Modi as a tribute to India’s first deputy PM and home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 143rd birth anniversary. The statue is now the world’s tallest, at 182 metres (597 feet).
Patel was popularly known as the ‘Iron Man of India’ for his role in bringing about the merger of the princely states during Independence.
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