csr: CSR spending goes greener; health gets highest dose as companies rejig focus

India Inc. is reprioritising its spending under corporate social responsibility (CSR) obligations. As the focus on sustainability gathered traction, CSR expenditure on the environment more than doubled in FY22 from a year before to ₹2,837 crore and the sector emerged as the biggest recipient of such funds after health and education. Similarly, the pandemic prompted companies to sharply raise spending on health, which has now beaten education as the top sector for CSR expenditure.

Spending on health stood at ₹9,987 crore in FY22, against ₹8,382 crore on education, according to an ET analysis of the latest segregated (provisional) data by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA).

The health category also includes initiatives on hunger, poverty and malnutrition, safe drinking water and sanitation.

Infosys top spender on environment
Total CSR expenditure in FY22 stood at ₹25,933 crore, a tad lower than ₹26,211 crore in the previous year, mirroring a decline in corporate profitability. As many as 18,623 companies spent the CSR funds on 42,440 projects across 14 broad development sectors in FY22, the data showed.

With an expenditure of ₹157 crore in FY22, Infosys was the top spender in the environment category, followed by ITC ( ₹151 crore), Indian Oil Corp. ( ₹56 crore), IndusInd Bank (just over ₹51 crore) and Wipro ( ₹51 crore).

Although the environment category includes animal welfare and conservation of resources, environmental sustainability made up over 83% of the CSR spending in this category in FY22.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) was the largest spender in the health category with an expenditure of ₹704 crore in FY22, followed by Reliance Industries (₹576 crore), Reliance Jio Infocomm (₹162 crore), SPL Infrastructure (₹146 crore) and Tata Sons (₹124 crore).

In education, ONGC was the top spender (₹213 crore) in FY22, followed by Reliance Industries (₹203 crore), HDFC Bank (₹186 crore), Khandelwal Edible Oils (₹166 crore) and Wipro (₹164 crore).

Overall, Reliance Industries led the pack of CSR spenders in FY22 with a total expenditure of ₹812 crore, followed by HDFC Bank (₹723 crore), TCS (₹720 crore), ONGC (₹436 crore) and NTPC (₹357 crore). State-run companies accounted for 17% (₹4,313 crore) of the total CSR spending in FY22.

According to rules, companies of a certain size are required to spend, annually, at least 2% of their average net profit made in the previous three financial years on stipulated social initiatives.

Maharashtra Karnataka biggest gainers
Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh were the biggest gainers and made up over 43% of the total CSR spending in FY22. Given the vast number of corporate entities it houses, Maharashtra alone accounted for Rs 5,229 crore, or a fifth of the total expenditure in FY22.

As many as 10,443 companies spent more than the prescribed amount of profit in CSR activities and 1,186 made the stipulated amount of expenditure in FY22, the official data showed. However, 3,929 companies made zero expenditure and 3,065 spent less than the stipulated amount.

The violation of CSR norms by a company attracts fines ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 25 lakh. The defaulting officers of the company will also be liable for imprisonment up to three years and/or fines ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh.

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