Sustainability has been the cornerstone of our business behaviour
Sustainability has been the cornerstone of our business behaviour

Sustainability has been the cornerstone of our business behaviour

Ajit Menon Group Head - CSR and HR, Dalmia Bharat Group
Dalmia Bharat recently signed an MoU with NABARD for promoting self-help groups.
Ajit Menon, Group Head - CSR and HR, Dalmia Bharat Group,
speaks on the company´s CSR initiatives.
What does CSR mean to Dalmia Cement Bharat Ltd?
CSR has always been an opportunity for us to engage with different stakeholders, principally our neighbouring communities, to share with them our growth benefits aiming at improving their quality of life. We believe that when we set up our business and operate in a geography, we become a part of that society and that ecosystem. The main focus areas of our CSR activities are soil and water conservation, energy conservation, climate change mitigation and livelihood skill training. These issues have been identified from independent/third-party need assessment studies and stakeholder engagements with the community. The study highlighted the basic needs of water for domestic use, energy sources for cooking and lighting, livelihood opportunities and community development. These issues are important for the company as well and thus make sense as focus areas of our CSR initiatives.

How have your skill development activities progressed? Apart from workers at construction sites, who are the other beneficiaries from your livelihood programmes?
We aim to develop the skills and abilities of people in our programme areas to enable them to be employable or have additional sources of income for their families. We have reached out to more than 14,000 direct beneficiaries in our programme. More than 8,200 members of our 720 + SHGs (Self-Help Groups) have been skilled and empowered. They have collected a corpus of more than Rs 4.4 crore through their savings and bank loans. Access to this corpus means that these ladies are able to take money for expenses like buying cattle, for agriculture, small business, etc. One of the best examples of the impact of SHG building and training is the Pragati Mahila Rural Bank, opened by 890 women from 61 SHGs, the first of its kind in the area. The bank has been operational from the past one year and now has a corpus of Rs 14 lakh.

We have organised trainings for SHG members on tailoring and stitching, weaving, handicrafts, food processing, dress designing, phenyl making, artificial jewellery making, candle making etc.

Many women from these SHGs have started their own business ventures and are earning additional incomes for their families. They sell their material locally and also in local fairs and festivals. The increase in income ranges from Rs 12,000-Rs 30,000 per year.

Another major initiative in this field are the two Dalmia Industrial Training Institutes (DITIs) being run in Dalmiapuram and Rajgangpur. The ITIs are being run from more than 20 years and have trained more than 3,000 people in eight trades; more than 65 per cent of them are employed.

We also collaborate with other organisations like IL&FS, I-LEAD, RSETI and government ITIs, and enable the youth in our villages to attend technical training programmes in their centres. Last year, we assisted more than 150 youth to get training through these centres. We have organised many training programmes for youth in computers, HTV driver training, security guard training, paramilitary training and mobile repair training, among other fields. The skill training has helped more than 600 people get jobs with monthly income from Rs 8,500 to Rs 12,000.

We have also promoted nine Farmer Producer Organisations, with 1,300 members and are helping them in collectively achieving their goals though scales of margin and ultimately an increase in income. We have helped more than 1,500 families avail loan of about Rs 3.8 crore for procuring milch animals. This helps in increased income for the families. In order to scale up and institutionalise our skill development vertical, Dalmia Foundation recently signed an MoU with the National Skill Development Corporation. Under this initiative, we will train 60,000 youth in 17 trades (under nine sectors) by setting up eight Skill Development Centres over a period of 10 years.

The group recently signed an MOU with NABARD for development interventions. What are the different programmes and which are the regions that will benefit from all these interventions?
Dalmia Bharat Foundation has signed a pan-India level MoU with NABARD. NABARD is a pioneering institution in promoting the SHG movement in India since 1992, which has become one of the most successful development models across the country. Through its regional offices and establishment at district levels, NABARD has covered a whole gamut of agricultural activities like crop production, participatory watershed development programmes, tribal development programmes etc., towards improving the livelihood of rural people. Dalmia Foundation has been working on a range of thematic areas cutting across diverse developmental issues like soil and water conservation, energy conservation, livelihood skill training and social development. Both the organisations identified areas of collaboration at the pan-India level like soil and water conservation, energy conservation and skill training, and will jointly implement projects relevant to geographies for convergence of development and other interventions. The initial focus will be in the states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, etc.

Cement plants cause massive environmental and social degradation. What are the steps being taken by DCBL on the environmental front to combat this impact?
DCBL cement plants are state-of-the-art plants driven through technology. So pollution through dust is completely out of the question. The very fact that we work on soil, water, energy and skill/livelihood is proof that our CSR is aimed at giving back to society and maintaining the ecosystem.

Do share with us your commitment to sustainability in India and the global stage. Sustainability in its widest sense has been the cornerstone of our business behaviour It has a direct bearing on business health, growth, human capital, community relations, resource management and corporate reputation. These are proactive, incremental initiatives. Knowledge of best practices, new learnings and their applications are sustained through several peer reviewed forums like:
Cement Sustainability Initiative a cement-specific project of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Association with International Finance Corporation (IFC) for adoption of low carbon technologies.
Association with The Energy Research Institute (TERI) for business sustainability etc.

Enlighten us about the scheme, ´Better Health Tomorrow´
Our focus areas of soil, water, energy and livelihood add up to a holistic approach towards ´Better Health Tomorrow´.

What are the community outreach programmes being carried out by you in the different areas of operations?
With regards to community development, our sustenance and growth is enmeshed and organically dependent to that of society. Through the Dalmia Bharat Foundation, we have made a positive impact on more than 200,000 people. Proactive across our 16 plant locations, the Foundation is adding value to 250 villages. It focuses on:

  • Soil and water conservation
  • Renewable energy conservation & climate change mitigation
  • Livelihood skill training
  • Social development
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