Punjab shirks its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CHANDIGARH: Big companies in Punjab shirk spending on corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Only Rs 42 crore was spent on such initiatives during 2015-16, which was much less than states like Haryana and Bihar. Data for following years has still not been compiled.

In comparison, Karnataka spent Rs 408 crore, Gujarat Rs 338 crore, Uttar Pradesh Rs 322 crore, Delhi Rs 237 crore, Bihar Rs 78 crore, Haryana Rs 169 crores and Jammu and Kashmir Rs 37 crore.

“This is not an encouraging trend for Punjab, which hopes to emerge as an industrial hub. It also needs to be investigated whether the figures quoted by companies were actually spent on the ground,” said Punjab-based activist Dinesh Chadha who got the information under RTI.

“Companies have been running away from the responsibility. Under the law, companies with an annual turnover of more than Rs 1,000 crore or those whose net worth is more than Rs 500 crore or profit is more than Rs 5 crores have to spend 2% of their average profit on CSR.

Analyzing the RTI reply, Chadha said as on January 31, 2016, 10,475 companies across the country were liable to spend under the CSR head. However, going by details shared by the Union ministry of corporate affairs, the departments concerned gathered data from only 5,097 companies, out of which only 2,691 companies across states have spent Rs 9,822 crore on corporate social responsibility projects during 2015-16.

R S Sachdeva, co-chairman of the Punjab committee of PHD Chamber, said there was need for the corporate affairs department to run awareness campaigns for industrialists. “In many cases, businessmen don’t know where to spend money. In Mohali, we are tying up with the district administration for this,” he said.

“There is lack of proper monitoring on part of departments concerned which makes industrialists liable for CSR lax. People spend on religious activities and often ignore CSR,” confided a Patiala-based businessman.

Chadha, meanwhile, alleged, “There is lack of seriousness, which is proven by the fact that the departments concerned have not even prepared data for 2016-17 and 2017-18. This money can prove to be a boon for tackling hunger in the country, bringing equality in education, for treatment of the needy or improving the condition of farmers.