RS 500 CRORE from Reliance Industries; Rs 500 crore from Tata Group; Rs 400 crore from Aditya Birla Group; Rs 100 crore from Adani Enterprises Limited; and, Rs 175 crore from three leading private sector banks.
It’s not just the public sector that has contributed to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) fund, major private sector establishments, from companies to banks, have chipped in with significant amounts, records scrutinised by The Indian Express show.
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ICICI Bank tops the list for private banks with Rs 80 crore followed by HDFC Bank with Rs 70 crore and Kotak Mahindra with Rs 25 crore. The donors include Yes Bank, which was rescued from the verge of collapse last year by an RBI plan, with Rs 10 crore — and an additional Rs 1.9 crore from a day’s staff salaries.
On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court agreed to hear on April 23 a plea seeking to declare the fund as a ‘State’ under the Constitution to ensure transparency. According to the plea, citizens are aggrieved that a fund set up by the Prime Minister and with trustees including the Union Ministers of Home, Defence and Finance has no government oversight.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh listed the plea along with another petition seeking to declare the fund as a “public authority” under the RTI Act. Both the petitions were filed by Samyak Gangwal.
The Prime Minister’s Office, which manages the fund, declined to furnish details of contributions received, saying that PM CARES is “not a public authority under the ambit of…the RTI Act”.
According to public records of these private companies and banks for 2019-2020, contributions were made within just four days of the launch of the fund on March 28, 2020, following the Covid outbreak.
On March 31, 2020, the fund had a corpus of Rs 3,076.62 crore of which Rs 3,075.85 crore was listed as “voluntary contributions”, according to its official website.
The Indian Express scrutinised responses under the RTI Act to find that 38 PSUs used their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds to together contribute over Rs 2,105 crore to the fund. RTI records also revealed that educational institutions, from Navodaya schools to IITs, IIMs and Central universities, together contributed Rs 21.81 crore.
Among the other corporate groups that contributed to PM CARES are, according to their records: Larsen & Toubro (Rs 150 crore); Infosys (Rs 50 crore under destitute care and rehabilitation); Hero Motors (Rs 50 crore); Mahindra & Mahindra (Rs 20 crore); Tech Mahindra (Rs 20 crore); Dabur India Ltd (Rs 11 crore); Asian Paints (Rs 35 crore to PM Cares and other state-run programmes).
In its annual report, Bharti Enterprises said the group “including its companies Bharti Airtel, Bharti Infratel committed a sum of over Rs 100 crore for India’s fight against COVID-19. A significant portion of this corpus was contributed to the PM – CARES Fund”.
The JSW Group stated it “together” committed Rs 100 crore to support all ongoing relief efforts of the Central and state governments. And that every employee contributed a minimum of their one-day salary to the fund.
Pharmaceutical company Lupin Ltd stated that it has “contributed meaningfully to the PM CARES Fund in India”. CIPLA referred to its 13,600 associates and stated that “each voluntarily contributed a day’s salary or more to the PM Cares Fund.” Aurobindo Pharma, a Hyderabad-based firm, stated that it “contributed to PM CARES Fund, Telangana State Disaster Management Authority and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Relief Fund”.
Private banks have also chipped in. IDFC First Bank pledged Rs 5 crore to the PM Cares fund and, additionally, its employees voluntarily contributed a day’s salary amounting to Rs 3.29 crore.
Responding to an RTI application filed by The Indian Express, IDBI Bank Ltd said that its employees including officers and Class 3 & 4 staff, “from their salary have contributed Rs 5.11 crore in April 2020”.
Axis Bank’s annual report said it set aside Rs 100 crore for fighting Covid-19 and that the bank’s employees have “contributed a part of their salaries towards the PM Cares.”