ONGC treating Gujarat like a child, says Pandian

Vol 14, PW 19 (24 Mar 11) People & Policy

ONGC has dismissed accusations by Gujarat energy secretary DJ Pandian that it is not spending enough on the welfare of local communities.

PETROWATCH learns ONGC acting chairman AK Hazarika sent a seven and a half page letter to Pandian on February 1, detailing the extent of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in the state. Hazarika writes that ONGC is spending plenty on social projects in Gujarat involving computer education, continued education for the girl children, providing shared LPG-fuelled kitchens for villagers, and setting up environmentally-friendly cremation units.

He ends the letter to Pandian by promising “due diligence in undertaking suitable CSR activities.” But Pandian is unconvinced.

“I am not satisfied with this reply,” he tells this report. “It is as if ONGC is giving Gujarat a ‘lollipop.

’ ONGC’s expenditure on CSR in Gujarat is nothing compared to what it earns from the state.” ONGC’s Gujarat CSR allocation for Gujarat has dropped from Rs16.37cr ($3.6m) in 2009-10 to Rs15.78cr ($3.5m) in 2010-11, we are told.

Compare this to GSPC, which Pandian formerly headed as managing director between 2001 and 2009. “GSPC is a very young and small company compared to ONGC,” we hear.

“But look at its CSR activities. It has already set up a modern petroleum university in Gujarat (the Pandit Deen Dayal Petroleum University in Ahmedabad) and a research institute (the Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute).

” Pandian is particularly annoyed with Hazarika’s statement that ONGC has spent Rs10cr ($2.2m) on laying, repairing or maintaining roads, as the company does this as part of its operations, not for Gujarat’s benefit. He also scoffs at Hazarika’s comment that ONGC has decided ‘in-principle’ to set up a hospital at Ankleshwar.

“I’d like to see ONGC set up the hospital,” he adds.