Dr. Alka Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director ONGC, talks about various CSR initiatives, and much more, in this interview with Greater Kashmir
Q: Welcome to Kashmir Valley, Dr Alka Mittal. ONGC as a leading Maharatna of the nation has set a benchmark continuously for the last two years by achieving 100% utilisation of its CSR budget. How has this been achieved? How much funds have been spent under CSR?
CSR has always been a priority for ONGC ever since we started our operations more than 6 decades ago. Though CSR has been legally mandated only since 2014, our commitment to develop and serve the community where we operate has been ingrained in our value system since the very beginning. We are happy to share that long before CSR rules were formulated, ONGC has been earmarking substantial funds towards CSR activities. In the last 5 years ONGC has spent more than 2700 crores under CSR.
Q: What have been the thrust areas?
ONGC has been undertaking CSR projects mainly in the field of education, health care, nutrition, sanitation, drinking water etc. as per the focus areas defined under schedule VII of Section 135 of Companies Act 2013. The Company also complies with the thematic areas of Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) which are defined on yearly basis.
Q: In the year 2018-19 alone, ONGC has implemented more than 4000 projects covering every nook and corner of the country. Please tell us about a few?
In 2018-19, our CSR footprints reached to every state of our country, from Baramulla in Jammu & Kashmir in north to Rameshwaram in south and West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh to Dahod district of Gujarat in the west. This has become possible because we have not confined our CSR initiatives only to the operational areas but have reached out to the needy communities across the nation. With an objective to cater to the need of people from remote locations we have developed a de-centralised method of implementing our CSR activities. CSR department has been formed in 24 work centers of ONGC, which take up projects independently as per the local requirements. Funds were accordingly provided to the work centres. This strategy has helped ONGC to reach out to communities in the remote areas of our country.
Q: A 300 bed Multi Speciality Hospital for the underprivileged has been set by ONGC in Assam. Are more such initiatives in the offing?
The 300 bed Multispecialty Hospital at Sivasagar has been one of the mega flagship projects of ONGC with investment of more than Rs 313 Cr. This is one of the most challenging projects to be implemented in the North-East which does not have adequate quality healthcare facilities. In just three years, more than 50,000 people have benefited through the services of the Phase I of the hospital. The 2nd and 3rd Phases are scheduled to be commissioned later this year. It is expected that more than 1 lakh people will be benefited in a year once the hospital is fully operational.
Q: Has ONGC ever worked for the elderly?
Yes, ONGC has multiple projects for catering to the need of elderly population. One project which I would like to mention here is the Varisthajan Swasthya Seva Abhiyan (VSSA), through which door step medical treatment was provided by engaging Mobile Medical Units. 20 MMU were engaged for a period of nine years from 2011 to 2019 in the operational areas of ONGC which not only provided free treatment but also provided basic medicines. More than 1.60 lakhs patients were benefited through this project. Besides, ONGC has also supported construction of Old Age homes in various locations of the country.
Q: Five ONGCians have been conferred with the Arjuna Awards for 2021. Is Sports in remote areas like J&K a possible priority CSR sector?
Yes, ONGC has always promoted sportspersons by offering them stipends and regular employment opportunities, especially for deserving sportspersons who have made the country proud with their achievements.
Yes, sports can be an agent of change in developing the community and channelizing the energy of youth. ONGC has taken up such projects in Northeast and similar projects can also be taken up for the youth of Jammu & Kashmir through credible agencies having expertise in providing training to promote rural sports, nationally recognised sports, paralympic sports and olympic sports.
Q: Has ONGC started any Super 30 programme for youth in J&K?
Based on our success of “Super 30” , Sivasagar (Assam) ONGC started a “Super 30” centre at Srinagar in 2019, for coaching of students belonging to socially and economically weaker section of the society, to enable admission in medical colleges.
In the last 3 years 90 students have been trained and more than 50% of them are getting admission in medical courses. We are exploring the possibility of starting a similar centres in other locations also.
Q: About Ummeed Foundation Prasad Joo Khan Heart Centre?
This project of Ummeed Foundation pertains to starting a super specialty heart center in Pulwama, J&K, under its “No-heart-attack-mission-2025”. The center will be run by experienced staff and will offer highly sensitive diagnostic procedures and other facilities at subsidized costs. The project cost is around Rs.1.11 Cr towards land procurement and building construction, equipment, tele-cardiology set up, Ambulance and Emergency equipment. Ummeed Foundation had already invested Rs.45 lakhs towards this project and ONGC has extended financial support of Rs.66.75 lakhs.
Q: At Nagpur, ONGC has supported for setting up of National Cancer Institute, a 455 bedded quaternary care oncology centre. Should a similar project be started in J&K?
The NCI at Nagpur was set up after evaluating requirement of such a centre in the region. Due to prevalence of Oral cancer cases in Nagpur, ONGC supported a collaborative project of setting up of Cancer Institute at Nagpur.
ONGC funds CSR projects based on need assessment and feasibility. Credible agencies having expertise for undertaking such mega projects are also explored and identified before finalising a large scale healthcare infrastructure project.
Your message for the youth of Kashmir?
I would encourage the youth of Kashmir to dream big, work hard, pursue their studies diligently and serve the greater interests of the society in any career or vocation that they choose to pursue. I have seen how the students of our Super 30 Centre in Srinagar have transformed their lives through sheer hard work and dedication and seeing their confidence, I am certain that the country is in the safe hands of our next generation.
I strongly believe each youngster is a ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’ waiting to bloom and spread smiles across the world and the nation with their exemplary work. So I say, focus on your studies, identify your strengths and try to excel in your chosen area. Strive to be the most optimistic and best versions of yourself, only then can we all fulfil our duties to ourselves, our parents, our society and our nation.
I am aware that often, there are challenges and situations which are beyond our control and come in the way of realising our dreams. So let me also add that you will always face stumbling blocks on your path to success but remember, that each stumbling block teaches us valuable lessons and it is merely a detour on our road to success. Grow stronger with each challenging or bitter experience and persevere to reach your true potential. Success will surely be yours, I am certain of that. Just believe in yourself and be confident. Make us all proud!