Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 made Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) compulsory in India. On April 1, 2014, the act came into effect making India the first country to legally mandate corporate social responsibility. Since then, CSR has come a long way with companies contributing towards the societal and sustainable development of the country.
Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) have also made valuable contributions towards this noble effort. Coal India Limited (CIL), the country’s largest coal company, spent more than Rs. 1,300 crores on CSR in the past three years according to a report. The mandated expenditure for the time period was Rs. 1,2 84 crores.
Vinay Ranjan, Director (Personnel), CIL, stated that the PSU was the third-largest CSR spender in the country. The COVID pandemic provided the biggest opportunity for corporates to up their CSR spending and CIL took up the challenge wholeheartedly. Over Rs. 500 crores were spent on various activities to help fight the pandemic.
As part of its COVID initiatives, CIL was directly or indirectly involved in setting up 31 oxygen plants in 28 hospitals across India in 2021 alone. This helped mitigate the oxygen shortage that gripped the entire nation.
Additionally, CIL dedicated 60 per cent of its CSR funds on health and sanitation. These projects focused on the underserved communities and worked for their upliftment. Free medical camps for mothers and children helped raise nutritional standards and promote healthy habits. CIL also imparted vocational skills to over 10,000 youths and helped them gain financial independence.
Presently, CIL’s activities are spread out over 34 districts across eight Indian states. Many of these are in regions where the PSU operates. Backward regions are slowly developing into model towns and villages thanks to the company’s efforts.
CSR has definitely made a positive impact on the Indian society. With a population of over 138 crores, government and public schemes alone are not enough. Non-profits can only do so much as they are dependent on voluntary contributions to carry out their operations. This has trained the spotlight on corporate India as they have the necessary funds to initiate and see through such projects. As things stands, the decision to legally mandate CSR spending has been a huge positive for the country.