‘Generating power to enable lives’
Gurdeep Singh, CMD, NTPC, talks about the company’s deeply ingrained belief of doing business by building corporate social relationship through Corporate Social Responsibility
Both the company and the community benefit from CSR initiatives. Do you subscribe to this?
Yes, definitely. We don’t look at CSR as charity or corporate philanthropy restricted to the mandated spend. CSR is just what its name suggests, a responsibility. It is how we adopt responsible business practices. Companies have to see CSR in this light in order to be relevant in the long-run. At NTPC, we improve the “Ease of Living” of the communities around our areas of operations, instilling trust in them, in turn making it more conducive for our business.
Can you discuss your company's CSR journey?
Corporate Social Responsibility has been synonymous with NTPC’s core business of power generation. NTPC, as a responsible corporate citizen, has been taking up CSR activities since its inception, much before mandated by DPE guidelines and now the Companies Act, 2013. NTPC had in place a Community Development Policy right since July 2004, modified as and when. We became a member of the Global Compact in 2011 and confirm to its ten principles, to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.
“NTPC Foundation” is our extended arm through which we take up fast-track projects addressing niche domains of socio-economic concerns in addition to the community development projects undertaken by our CSR functional group. We encourage volunteering by employees and their family members as well, under the banner of “Employee Voluntary Organisation for Initiatives in Community Empowerment (EVOICE)”.
What are the key focus areas for your company's CSR project?
With power plants located across India, our reach is very widespread, and there is huge community coverage. The focus is on providing quality education, clean drinking water, sanitation, good health and environment sustainability. These areas are also aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 6 and 7.
What is the implementation method of CSR at your company?
NTPC has a pan-India presence with most of its projects and stations located in backward regions/ remote rural areas of the country. NTPC takes up most of the CSR activities primarily in the neighbourhood villages of its stations, with special emphasis on marginalised and downtrodden sections of the society. In order to identify needs of communities, we conduct Need Assessment Surveys and stakeholder consultation through various participative fora. A Board Level Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Committee then allocates funds against identified needs. However, we also determine some centrally driven programs for larger good. For example, we recently commissioned a solid waste management plant at Karsara in Varanasi. We are also building a school for tribal children in Sonebhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. All CSR activities are carried out in project mode, through internal or external teams.
What is your CSR team’s strength?
We have a three-tier structure with teams at Corporate, Regional, and Operating Stations’ levels, with their unique enabling roles. In addition, we have a Board Level Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Committee to oversee the CSR activities.
As such, every employee of NTPC is a CSR person, working day in and out to generate power to enable lives, and doing so most responsibly. We are known for our strong corporate governance which ensures investors globally of our transparent systems. If you are asking about the specific 2% spend, there are more than 100 employees, either partly or fully entrusted with the planning and execution.
Could you tell us what is your opinion of the current phase of CSR in India? What are the main challenges that the field is facing?
With the Companies Act, 2013 making CSR mandatory, even the Government of India is now looking up to businesses as a proactive support to solve national problems and achieve its developmental goals and inclusive growth.