‘CSR funds not for BJD’s poll expenditure’

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Bhubaneswar: After the ruling BJD expressed its dissatisfaction over central PSUs backing out from the Aahar scheme, the Odisha unit of BJP on Sunday hit out at the former, stating that the PSUs’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds were not meant for election expenditure.

The much-hyped Aahar scheme, under which the state government plans to provide lunch at Rs.5 per person in five urban centres from April 1, has hit hurdles after three central public sector companies MCL, NALCO and Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) backed out of a commitment to provide funds.

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Bijay Mohapatra said the Odisha government has launched the subsidised rice scheme keeping an eye on civic elections in the state and it tried to rope in the PSUs to provide funds from their CSR activities.

“Your (BJD) election expenditure cannot be met out of CSR fund. CSR is not for charity. It is for sustainable development and creating assets,” Mohapatra told media persons.

The BJP leader, however, said the party is not opposing the scheme. He said the government should have incorporated the scheme in the budget instead of seeking assistance from public sector undertakings.

Mohapatra also said RSP and Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) have been asked to set up medical colleges with an investment of Rs.200 crore each while they are also providing funds worth Rs.800 crore for construction of toilets in schools in Odisha.

The BJD government had announced launch of the Aahar scheme in Sambalpur, Rourkela, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Berhampur cities.

In addition, the BJP leader blamed the state government for the power tariff hike announced by the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC).

“The state government has supported the OERC decision to hike the electricity tariff, which will affect the common people in the state. The same government has also exempted electricity duty of Rs.128 crore on Vedanta company,” Mohapatra added.

Biju Janata Dal leader Pratap Keshari Dev rubbished the allegations made by the BJP. He said the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission ordered the power tariff hike though the state government had written to it to keep the rates unchanged.

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