Coal India, the world’s biggest coal miner, has decided to raise a new cadre of officers who will oversee the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
Economic Times reported that top executives at the state-run miner told that its board had at its last meeting cleared the proposal to recruit about 120 officers in the CSR cadre this year. This is the first time that such a large team is being organised for CSR activities in any private or public sector company in India. Most public sector companies source officers from other departments and depute them on ad-hoc basis at CSR units.
The CSR teams are also not so big, For example, the CSR team at Indian Oil Corporation has about 20 people. “The sheer size of Coal India’s fund for CSR and the area over which it has to be spread requires dedicated officials, who would oversee the quality of the projects being undertaken and the funds being spent for the job,” said a senior Coal India executive. Coal India and its eight subsidiaries will be spending around Rs 300 crore in 2014-15 on CSR activities. This could be spread over the company’s 85 mining regions.
The new companies law makes it mandatory for companies of a certain financial strength to spend at least 2 per cent of their average net profit over three years on CSR. Until now, Coal India was not taking up CSR projects on its own. It had restricted its involvement mainly to funding non-government organisations, whose CSR projects were approved by the Coal India board.
“CIL’s CSR projects always runs into crores. For example, we have lined up a project in Purulia, where 40 villages will be adopted by CIL and projects like sanitation, medical benefits, infrastructure will be provided at a cost of Rs 29 crore. We are also setting up an IIIT with the West Bengal government,” the executive quoted earlier said.
But Coal India wanted to develop its own CSR team, he said “This has been our demand for some time now. We wanted a dedicated team of officials with education background and experience in community development, so that we could take up CSR activities effectively,” he said. The executive said the officers being recruited will be posted in each of the mining areas of Coal India and they will oversee the projects being undertaken by the NGOs. The move to raise a CSR cadre comes after the government pulled up the company for not spending its CSR funds effectively in 2011-12. The company had managed to spend only about 15 per cent of the funds earmarked for CSR during the year.
In a report, the Kalyan Banerjee led standing committee on coal and steel had said that out of an allotment of Rs 554 crore for the year, Coal India could spend only Rs 82 crore, terming it a “gross failure”. The committee said although the coal ministry replied that they have intentions to spend the money for CSR activities, in reality, it seems that they do not have a serious intention to spend it. The government has also pointed out that the officers-in-charge of spending money on CSR activities must be made accountable for the failure to spend the CSR budget.