Nalco probed for misuse of CSR, PD funds

Business
After the lime procurement scam and lean slurry scam, Nalco is once again in the spotlight, this time over misuse of peripheral development (PD) fund and CSR fund. The company's in-house vigilance department is probing a case of how officials favoured a particular private university against prevailimg norms over expenditure from CSR and PD fund.

Documents available with The Indian Express have revealed that Rs 45 lakh from peripheral development fund supposed to be spent on areas like Koraput where the aluminium major has bauxite mines and refinery was given to Centurion University for Technology and Management (CUTM), a private university set up in 2010.

The in-house vigilance department is now probing how the then Nalco top management, including director(finance) BL Bagra and others approved CUTM though it was a relatively new university.

Apart from the Rs 45 lakh already released, Nalco has earmarked another Rs 3 crore as endowment fund for the university as part of its CSR activities. Nalco is partnering with the same university for setting up an Indian Institute of Information Technology under public private partnership framework with a financial assistance of Rs 2 crore. The grant of Rs 3 crore as endowment fund came even as several senior managers objected to the proposal in writing.

The vigilance department is also examining the methodology Nalco used to chose the university as its partner in running an Industrial Technical Institute at Marichamal area of Koraput's Damanjodi district at a cost of Rs 4.25 crore. As per the arrangement, all the money for the ITI would be spent through the university. An amount of Rs 2 crore has already been released for the same. Apart from this amount, the running expenditure of Rs 1 crore a year would also be spent by Nalco through the same university.

Official documents showed that in the last three years, Nalco never gave more than Rs 4 lakh to a particular education institution in the country from its CSR fund. Following a complaint from Nalco Employees Forum in July this year, an in-house probe was started as to why that university was favoured.

The apparent misuse of funds and its investigation has come at a time when the company is under fire from tribals in Koraput for neglecting them. During the 2009 Maoist attack on Panchpatmali bauxite mines in Damanjodi block of Koraput, the local villagers allegedly helped the rebels as they were aggrieved with Nalco's callousness towards their development.

Money trail

* Documents reveal that Rs 45 lakh from peripheral development fund supposed to be spent on areas like Koraput was given to a private university set up in 2010

* Nalco has also earmarked another Rs 3 crore as endowment fund for the university as part of its CSR activities

* Nalco is also partnering with the same university for setting up an Indian Institute of Information Technology with a Rs 2 crore assistance

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