BANGALORE: A dozen ports controlled by the Union government have been asked to undertake corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, even though they operate as trusts rather than as corporate entities.
“Considering the economic, social and environmental impact the activities of ports have on the society and the environment, it is felt that the ports should serve the interests of the society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities,” Vishal Gagan, deputy secretary in the shipping ministry, wrote in a 2 December communication.
Twelve of the 13 ports controlled by the Union government, called major ports, function as trusts under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963. Ennore port in Tamil Nadu is the only exception. The 13 ports together account for 67% of India’s external trade shipped by the sea every year. In the year to March, these ports together loaded 569.9 million tonnes of cargo.
The government has been trying to convert the 12 port trusts into corporate entities, but faces opposition from workers’ unions.
The shipping ministry has made it mandatory for these ports to allocate CSR budgets every year as a percentage of their net profits.
Ports with net profits less than Rs. 100 crore in the previous financial year should earmark 3-5% as CSR budget, while those with net profits of Rs. 100-500 crore should set aside 2-3%, Gagan wrote. Ports earning net profits of Rs.500 crore or more should allocate 0.5-2%.
The Major Port Trusts Act allows the government to issue directives to the ports, said P.C. Parida, deputy chairman of Chennai Port Trust. “We have to follow whatever the government says.”
Ports may undertake CSR activities in their periphery, according to the ministry guidelines.
They should focus on activities related to their business to make CSR a natural corollary to their core activities, the ministry said.
CSR activities should typically be executed through voluntary agencies, self-help groups, trusts and missions rather than through the port staff.