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UT status makes Ladakh a big draw for CSR funding

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The Times Of India
03rd October, 2019 23:36 IST

NEW DELHI: Cash-rich PSUs (public sector undertakings) are flocking to Ladakh in search of corporate social nirvana, offering to fund projects for improving quality of life and protecting environment as the cold desert nestled high in the Himalaya prepares for a new life as a Union Territory (UTs) after October 31.

The sudden rush of CSR (corporate social responsibility) projects by state-run entities has much to do with Ladakh’s new-found status. While the government is definitely nudging them to take up development projects in the newly carved UTs — including the UT of Jammu & Kashmir — the real driver is a rejuvenated district administation playing active role in hardselling such projects to PSUs, especially those who have a business presence in the region.

The innovative ‘Tsang-Da’ waste management project is an ideal example of this hardsell. “It is a great project launched by my predecessor Avny Lavasa. I want to scale it up with 3-4 mechanised waste processing plants at Karu, Chuchot, Spituk and Stok,” Sachiin Kumar Vaisjha, the present DC, told TOI confirming Hindustan Petroleum’s Rs 50-lakh support to the project.

The outreach is getting positive response from others as well. “IndianOil can play a stellar role in making Leh India’s ‘Ice Hockey Capital’, leveraging and mainstreaming the Ladakhi rural passion for archery and setting up solar-based smart classrooms in government schools,” company director (HR) Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra told TOI. The company has built 25 vegetable cellars to ensure supply of greens during the harsh winter and tourist medical facility.

Vaishya said AAI is setting up a mainframe MRI, the largest in any district hospital in the country, at SNM Hospital in Leh, which also caters to Kargil. The airports operator is also setting up other medical equipment at the hospital for approximately Rs 12 crore. He has also roped in transmission utility PowerGrid to revamp schools and sub-divisional health centres at a total estimated cost of Rs 1 crore.

“There is anticipation of frenetic development work and a matching boom in tourism as Ladakh gets a place in mainstream cosciousness. But even then it’s Shangri-La image will endure and the place will continue to attract global attention. This makes it an ideal platform for corporate brand-building through quality CSR,” a senior executive of one of the companies told TOI requesting anonymity.

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