Kesoram strives to uplift the standard of living of underprivileged villagers

Kesoram strives to uplift the standard of living of underprivileged villagers

N Veda Kumar, Factory Manager, Kesoram Cement

Kesoram Cements is a division of Kesoram Industries, which a six- decade- old company owned by the Birla Group. Kesoram Cement was established in 1968 with one kiln and some balancing equipment to produce ten lakh tonnes of cement per year. The company has now grown to manufacture 15 lakh tonnes of cement per year. Kesoram has established a splendid relationship with the community in and around the factory. In the entire 35 years of its operations, the company has not seen any strikes or lock-outs. The company has an excellent track record in terms of generating employment opportunities for the local population, in furthering rural development and in protecting the natural environment. N Veda Kumar, Factory Manager, Kesoram Cement, explains how the company successfully aligned its growth with community benefits and helped everyone work towards a common goal of prosperity. Excerpts from the interview.

You have been very closely involved with villagers around the factory. Please tell us about your network.
Kesoram Cement has established the Kesoram Grama Vikasa Kendra (KGVK) Trust for organising corporate social responsibility programmes in the vicinity of the factory. At present, 12 villages are adopted by us, which are spread over in nine Gram Panchyats, three Mandal Praja Parishads and two Revenue divisions. Kesoram Cement has appointed a fulltime Rural Development Officer (RDO) to look after Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. The activities are planned and implemented keeping the needs of villagers in mind.

How involved is your staff in these endeavours?
KGVK operates as a co-ordinating agency through its RDO and a team of members who serve as a link between the government departments, institutions like Gram Panchayats, co-operative organisations, Lions` club, NABARD, etc. A veterinary doctor and a media co-ordinator is also a part of the KGVK team looking after CSR activities.

The medical officer regularly conducts medical camps in the adopted villages. The veterinary doctor conducts animal health camps in all the 12 adopted villages every month. Media co-ordinator, a member of CSR committee, takes part in each and every activity helping people to be aware of all the opportunities generated by socially conscious Kesoram Cement, and helps building up the company's image. The positive work has enhanced the company's trustworthiness not only in society but also in the market.

Tell us some more about your CSR activities.
One part of our focus has been on helping unemployed youth to become independent and become capable of self-employment. Towards this end, we have taken up initiatives to impart training in motor driving, computer education, refrigerator and AC repair, etc, to youngsters.

We train Std 10 dropouts to secure a driving licence with the help of the RTO. Many of them are employed in public and private organizations, and are now able to earn their bread and butter. Tailoring centres have helped poor and needy housewives to gain financial stability. The women are able to earn at least Rs 200 every day by doing tailoring work. Similarly, girls who have undergone computer education are now working as computer operators in schools and private sectors.

We have installed RO water plants that have helped prevent water- borne diseases. Some 60 per cent of diseases spread through unsafe water. Earlier women had to go several kilometres away from home to fetch potable water, now they get it at their doorstep. Besides this, we have built concrete roads, temples, masjid, and churches in the villages. Refrigerator and AC training is another key programme geared towards helping the unemployed youth to improve their standard of life. Certificates are issued by the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India. We have taken initiatives to help farmers meet experts and gather know-how on scientific methods of farming.

What are your priorities while framing a CSR plan?
Kesoram strives to uplift the standard of living of underprivileged villagers who are below the poverty line, by creating avenues of self-employment and other facilities. KGVK is doing its best to boost rural development. Efforts are also on to help the rural masses enhance their social and economic status. The company has created a healthy atmosphere among villagers by educating them and by directing them towards a better living.

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