Fact Check: Who funded the tallest statue of the world?

Fact Check: Who funded the tallest statue of the world?

Days after its inauguration, the much-hyped Statue of Unity has been engulfed in controversy over its funding. A viral post claims that Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) were made to shell out nearly Rs 2,500 crore as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund for the construction of the statue. The post was brought to the notice of the India Today Fact Check team by a reader, Hilda Abraham.

Social media is indeed abuzz with claims that PSUs spent over Rs 2,525 crore for the construction of the statue. India Today Fact Check team found that the PSUs have contributed funds for the statue but the claims regarding the amount are highly exaggerated. The biggest contribution came from the Gujarat government followed by the Centre.

One David D’Costa posted a message on Facebook claiming that most of the funding for the project was made by public sector oil companies. One of the sentences in the message reads: “When India is literally crying for reduction in Oil prices…This is how our Oil sector PSUs are made to splurge their money!”

The message, being widely circulated on social media, quotes Loksatta editor Girish Kuber for figures regarding PSUs footing the bill of the Sardar Patel statue. Kuber wrote an article in Marathi daily, Loksatta, on November 3 quoting the figures.

Some other posts on social media even claim that a loan of Rs 3,600 crore was taken from China to make the statue.

To find out the details of the contribution made by the PSUs, India Today Fact Check team went through the annual reports of various PSUs and the budget papers.

The Sardar Patel statue project was first announced on October 7, 2010, by the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. But it wasn’t until 2013, when a Special Purpose Vehicle, the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust was formed that it gathered pace.

After Modi became the prime minister in 2014, the project gathered momentum. The central government in its 2014-15 Budget allocated a sum of Rs 200 crore to the Gujarat government for this purpose.

Since then, the Gujarat government has been making a provision for funds for the statue in the state budget.

Following are the figures showing the state’s contribution for the project.
2018-19 Rs 899 crore
2016-17 Rs 1066 crore*
2015-16 Rs 915 crore
2013-14 Rs 100 crore

*Provision included funds for establishing Tribal Research & Training Institute

In the meantime, several PSUs also started contributing funds for the statue which did not go down well with the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG). The CAG in its Compliance Audit on General Purpose Financial Reports 2018 of Central Public Sector Enterprises of Union Government rapped the PSU firms for spending CSR funds on the construction of the statue. The CAG report stated that a total of Rs 146.83 crore was spent by five PSU firms namely ONGC, IOCL, BPCL, HPCL and OIL.

Here’s the individual amount donated by the public sector oil companies over the years as per the CAG report.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited Rs 50 crore
Indian Oil Corporation Limited Rs 21.83 crore
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited Rs 25 crore
Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited Rs 25 crore
Oil India Limited Rs 25 crore

Since, the claims made on the basis of Loksatta article do not mention any time frame for the CSR funding for the project, it was difficult to verify the years they were referring to. However, we decided to look into the annual reports of these PSUs since 2015, the year the construction work for the statue gained momentum.

According to the claims, the Indian Oil Corp gave Rs 900 crore for the statue. However, the annual report of IOCL says it actually gave only Rs 21.83 crore in the year 2016-17.

For ONGC, the claim made was for Rs 500 crore. But according to the annual report, it has spent only Rs 50 crore from its CSR fund for the project.

In the viral post, it is claimed that all the three companies — BPCL, OIC and GAIL — have spent Rs 250 crore each for the statue. India Today found that BPCL spent Rs 45 crore, OIC Rs 25 crore and GAIL Rs 25 crore. Power Grid has contributed Rs 12.5 crore against a claim of Rs 125 crore made in the post.

The Loksatta article mentioned that the HPCL has given Rs 250 crore but we found that as per annual report of 2016-17, it gave Rs 25 crore.

The claims stated that Gujarat Minerals Corporation Limited (GMCL) had given Rs 100 crore for the project whereas India Today found from the annual report that the company gave only Rs 11 crore.

The post claims that the two companies, Petronet and Balmer Lawrie, have given Rs 50 crore each for the statue project, but we found that Petronet gave Rs 5 crore while Balmer Lawrie gave money twice — Rs 62 lakh in 2017-18 and Rs 38 lakh in 2016-17.

We couldn’t find any mention of funds for the statue in the financial statements of Engineers India Limited.

India Today contacted Sandeep Kumar, joint managing director at the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), for further clarification on the project funding. The SSNNL has been tasked with overseeing the implementation of the Statue of Unity project. According to Kumar, the project cost was Rs 2,362 crore, and an additional Rs 650 crore has been kept for the maintenance of the project for the next 15 years. The project cost includes setting up of a memorial, a 50-room hotel, and infrastructure surrounding the area.

Kumar claimed that “the central government had given Rs 300 crore for the project while Rs 550 crore was given by the central and state PSUs, private companies and individuals as donations”.

“Rest of the expenditure has been borne by the Gujarat government,” he added.

India Today Fact Check team found that the claims, which said the PSUs bore the cost of Sardar Patel statue project, are partially true. The PSUs certainly did not spend to the tune Rs 2,500 crore as being claimed. Also, the claims about funds coming from China as loan are far from true.

READ| Modi unveils Statue of Unity, pays Sardar Patel a tall tribute

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