Government alone cannot provide all amenities to the humongous 1.25 billion population of India. A public-CSR-partnership can pave way for the government schemes to reach to the last mile. By its CSR initiative in Angul district in Odisha, Jindal Steel and Power’s CSR arm, JSPL Foundation, has shown way to the government as well as corporate houses the methods to reach the ground. Mohd Mustaquim reports
Saritha Mahapatra, 43, a woman in Niranjanpur village, Angul district in Odisha, earlier used to work in the fields along with her husband at a nominal income. Today, she works as part of a self-help-group (SHG), ‘Chaiti’ and makes herbal soaps, creams and beauty products at Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) Colony, Badamathitala, 10 kms from JSPLs steel plant. She is not alone. More than 10 women are engaged in the same work. They spend their free time, around two hours in a day, and earn Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 per month as a supplementary income.
During the process of establishment of the steel plant and 810 MW captive power plant at 2,500 acres of land, Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) had to resettle and rehabilitate 210 displaced families. The habitation is known as R&R Colony. The Foundation has set up a Jan Jeevika Kenda (Centre for Rural Trades) in the colony. Here, it has formed eight SHGs. Women in groups work for manufacturing of jute handbags, low-cost sanitary napkins for rural women, processed food, agarbatti (incense stick) and all kinds of herbal body care cosmetics and beauty products under a brand ‘Eco-Spa’.
According to Puspalata Satpathy, who takes care of CSR activities of JSPL Foundation, JSPL and Confederation of Indian Industry are the largest consumers of jute handbags made by the Odi-Fab SHG while ITC supplies the agarbatti raw material for Maa Hingula Producers Group SHG and also buys the products made by them.
Besides, SHGs are also working for paper recycling, mushroom growing, dairy farm and other various activities. The JSPL Foundation has developed all infrastructure for the SHGs in R&R Colony and has provided loan on zero percent interest to make them self reliant.
To provide education and health services in the colony, the Foundation has established a school, JSPL Vidyapeeth, Aanganwadi Kendra for pre-schooling and state-of-the-art public health centre, equipped with advanced technologies, tele-medicine, tele-conferencing with Apollo Hospital along with computerised health checkups of the residents.
During the resettlement and rehabilitation, the foundation provided 4,400 square ft of land to every adult member of each family, pucca buildings along with a job to a member of the families at JSPL plant.
Besides the R&R Colony, the Foundation is providing health, education and employment opportunities in 34 villages, benefitting 8,227 households in the surrounding areas.
For Healthy Communities
The Foundation runs a programme ‘Aanchal’, dedicated to mother and childcare to minimise infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) in these villages. The Foundation has provided two fully equipped ambulances to the Angul district administration for addressing medical emergency of the local population.
JSPL Foundation has designed a comprehensive solution to tackle the female adolescent anaemia in the rural areas of the district. The remedy comprises of awareness sessions through mass counseling, haemoglobin test, iron supplementation through IFA tablets, supplied by the government’s Kishori Shakti Yojana and School Health Programme. The young girls are sensitised on the use of low cost sanitary napkins ‘Sshodashi’, made by the SHG.
To facilitate the services in the doorsteps of the villagers in 321 villages of Chhendipada and Banarpal blocks, the Foundation runs two vans, called Kishori Express from February 2011, in association with National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and District Health Committee.
Speaking to R&M, Prashant Hota, a senior officer at JSPL says, “The primary objective of Kishori Express is to tackle the prevalence of anaemia among girls approaching the reproductive age and to augment the awareness levels about reproductive health through lifestyle management amongst them.”
Angul is located at Bhubaneswar – Sambalpur highway which makes it vulnerable for HIV and AIDS due to truck drivers and migrant labourers. Thus, the foundation has so far counselled and screened 7,273 high risk people through Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre.
The Foundation is supplementing government support for infrastructure facilities in the schools. It has played vital roles in improving teacher student ratio in 47 schools — from 1:76 to 1:40 – through 96 community teachers in 31 villages. Moreover, the foundation has so far provided school books to the 10,424 children of the poor convicts in prisons of Odisha, in partnership with an NGO ‘John Augustus Prison and Social Welfare Services’ in 55 jails.
Furthermore, it has set up 40 Aanganwadi centres in 27 villages of both the blocks with educational tools and playschool infrastructure, in association with ICDS and Angul district administration.
By promoting SHGs and helping them graduate into self help entrepreneurs, the Foundation has engaged 572 women in income generation activities. With the support of Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS), their products; organic herbal body care, jute products, processed foods, sanitary napkins, incense sticks and other goods are showcased at national and state level exhibitions and fairs, including India International Trade Fair, New Delhi and Grameen Mela in Tamnar, Chhattisgarh.
Within the Jan Jeevika Kendra, the foundation has established a milk collection-cum-distribution centre, Jindal Dairy which is managed by a farmers’ group, comprising 10 dairy farmers. The unit is connected to five milk collection centres, comprising 60 dairy farmers from the nearby villages. The unit collects approximately, 7,200 litres milk per month which is marketed in the JSPL Township. The unit generates a supplementary income of Rs 4,200 per month per household.
According to Hota, the major objective of Jan Jeevika Kendra is to empower rural women and convert their leisure time into financial hours, to make optimum utilisation and value addition of locally available backyard farm products and to create supplementary livelihood options for the rural women and enhance their quality of life with social and economic status.
Creating Community Infrastructure
In association with the local community and various government agencies, the Foundation is working towards creating infrastructure for the community. To get the ownership of the infrastructure, it is vital to involve the community in them. The partnership of the community usually comes as Shramadaan (charity labour). It gives a feel of ownership among the local communities.
To facilitate better access to the nearby towns and to ensure hygiene, the Foundation has constructed 48 kms of roads and drains in the 30 villages. With the support of the government, it has done 10 kms electrification in 13 villages. To develop water resources, the foundation has excavated 40 ponds in 16 villages. Furthermore, to provide safe drinking water, the Foundation has constructed 157 tubewells while repaired 179 tubewells in 36 villages.
Managing Water Resources
To address the issues of soil erosion, deforestation, sedimentation of water harvesting structures, the Foundation in association with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and the local community, two micro watersheds management projects are being constructed. In the project, NABARD funds 60 percent, JSPL Foundation funds 35 percent while rest of 5 percent is funded by the local community.
“The onus of implementing the project lies with the village watershed committees which are working under the guidance of the project facilitating agency, Maulana Azad Samajik Evam Shaikshanik Parishad. The project covers five villages which will benefits 1,782 households after completion”, Hota further said.
The project is now about to complete. Once it gets completed, it would have a capacity of converting 86 hectares of fallow land into cultivable land. 123 hectares of land to be transformed into mono crop pattern to double crop pattern while 39 hectares land will be transformed in mono crop to triple crop.
JSPL, through its CSR arm JSPL Foundation has set an example in front of other corporate houses who are working with the community for their betterment. A business cannot be a successful venture until the local communities get benefits. Though, the company law gives a surety of spending at least 2 percent from their profit for corporate social responsibility, but it is not enough to develop the local communities.
Even after the 68 years of independence, the government’s development programmes sometimes do not reach to the last mile. Public health centres and community health centres are lacking of doctors. Similarly, in the primary schools, a number of teachers’ position lies vacant. According to a recent survey, more than half of teachers need training. The JSPL Foundation has shown that if government agencies are lacking in execution and implementation, public-CSR-partnership can pave the way for effective implementation of programmes.