In order to build a 182-metre-tall statue of Sardar Ballabhbhai Patel at the Sadhu Bet island, the Petroleum Ministry has instructed oil and gas Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) to pay at least Rs 200 cr. The statue is being installed 3.5 km south of the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia in Narmada district of Gujarat. According to Indian Express report, oil and gas majors such as ONGC and Indian Oil Corporation will contribute Rs 50 cr each out of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds, other profit-making PSUs have been asked to pay Rs 25 cr each.
The agenda note approved by the Chairman and Managing Director, ratified by the ONGC board in April says, “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,”
A GAIL India official told Indian Express that the Ministry has instructed all oil and gas companies last month to support the project in a collective mode. “It was conveyed at a CSR review meeting. No written order was issued,” the official added further. Big giants such as Oil India Ltd, GAIL India Ltd, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum have sanctioned Rs 25 crore each for the project and have taken the collective contribution so far to Rs 200 crore. The amount collected by these oil and gas majors will contribute to nearly one-fifth of the total expenditure which is assumed to be Rs 1,040 cr for the Statue of Unity in financial year 2017-18.
Speaking to Indian Express, ONGC said, “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.”
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“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” it added.
According to the agenda paper, these companies had extended Rs 104.88 cr as financial support for the project. Top contributors among them includes 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).
Currently, the statue is under construction, but when completed it is envisaged as the world’s tallest statue. The contract of the constructional work is being taken care by Larsen and Toubro for Rs 2989 crore with a targeted completion date of October 2018. Spread over 20,000 square metre area, the statue will be surrounded by an artificial lake.