As the PM CARES fund lies outside the ambit of Section 2(h) of RTI Act, no query on how the fund is being used has been answered either.
38 PSUs have used the money from their Corporate Social Responsibility funds to contribute ₹ 2,105 crores to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance & Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) fund, records accessed under the RTI Act show.
The report published by the Indian Express comes at a time when opposition parties especially the Congress has been questioning the Modi government for lack of transparency in the usage of the Fund.
The Indian Express sent RTI queries to 55 PSUs and received, until August 13, responses from 38, which showed that they contributed a total of Rs 2,105.38 crore over the past five months from budgetary allocations in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.
Among the 38 PSUs the top donor is Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) with ₹ 300 crores.
NTPC is the second highest donor contributing ₹ 250 crores to the Fund.
However, ONGC has acknowledged that they have made the donation even though they are yet to finalize the budgetary allocation for the financial year 2020-21.
Meanwhile, Power Finance Corporation acknowledged that they crossed the total CSR limit for 2020-21 and donated ₹ 50 crore more than the initial budgetary allocation.
On the other hand, SAIL has revealed that they donated ₹ 33 crores to PM CARES fund even though they have not made any profit in the last three years.
Although the Modi government has assured that all contributions made to PM CARES fund are voluntary, the presence of public sector undertakings in the list of major donors leaves enough room for doubt. As the PSUs though operating independently still have the Government of India as the majority shareholder which provides enough room for the government to influence PSU’s decisions.
The PMO so far has refused to reveal the list of all the donors and the contributions made by them. As the PM CARES fund lies outside the ambit of Section 2(h) of RTI Act, no query on how the fund is being used has been answered either.