We aim at a holistic development of people in our programme areas
The CSR activities of OCL and Dalmia Bharat Group cover around 100 villages and about one lakh people in the neighbouring villages of its plant. Vishal Bhardwaj, Group Head, CSR, Dalmia Bharat Group, elaborates on the Group´s major CSR activities.
What is your understanding of CSR and why is it necessary?
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been displayed consistently in the Dalmia Bharat Group, and therefore in OCL, over decades in tune with the socio-economic philosophy of Trusteeship pronounced by Mahatma Gandhi. 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 eco-system. For our business to sustain, it is essential for us to sustain that eco-system and ensure the equitable growth of our neighbouring communities. That has a close connection to our own growth. In a way, a good CSR also mitigates the potential business risks.
Tell us about your involvement in CSR initiative.
Even as we have an independent and exclusive CSR team at all the facilities of OCL, the participation of our colleagues from other departments is active and high. Not only the staff, but at times their families also get involved in certain projects of their interest where they could add some value voluntarily. So, be it mentoring a trainee at one of our skill development facilities or guiding a student in our Remedial Education Centre or even initiating a project on adolescents´ health, our own people have displayed their willingness to be the CSRs´ partners and volunteers. Some others, like the civil teams, get even more directly involved when it comes to building the social infrastructure in the vicinity.
Could you shed some light on your major CSR activities?
Our CSR activities cover around 100 villages and about one lakh people in the neighbouring villages of our plant. Our initiatives are in the fields of Education, Health and Sanitation, Livelihood Development, Water Conservation and Infrastructure.
Health and sanitation: The neighbouring communities do not have access to healthcare services and have to travel far for even regular health issues. We are undertaking various programmes to provide consistent healthcare services to the people. One of the projects focusses on ´Maternal & Child Health Care Project´ being run in 38 villages in partnership with ´SEWAK´ a state level NGO working in Odisha. This programme focusses on improved maternal and child health through counselling of pregnant women and lactating mothers and linking them to government ASHA workers; creating awareness on adolescent health issues and increasing institutional health seeking behaviour. We reach out to all the pregnant and lactating mothers in these villages apart from the other beneficiaries of our awareness programmes.
Mobile medical vans is another initiative to reach out to people in far flung areas. This project is being implemented with HelpAge India. Last year, this facility reached out to 12,170 beneficiaries in 12 villages in Cuttack.
Health checkup camps for general health issues as well as specialised areas are organised across all our villages. A specialised team of doctors and healthcare professionals visit designated spots on fixed days so that the villagers have regular access to health services. During the camps, blood, urine, bone minerals and other tests are done as required. Free medicines are also given to the patients.
In Rajgangpur, we have recently set up LV Prasad Eye Institute in Rajgangpur. The hospital is catering to the eye care health services of the neighbouring villages. We are also collaborating with the local government agencies to reach out to more people and contribute in the National Blindness Mission of the country.
Along with providing healthcare services, we are also generating health awareness on many health issues ranging from seasonal diseases, clean India, and sanitation to adolescent health. Our awareness programmes reached out to more than 40,000 people in the last year.
As proper sanitation facilities are essential for good health, we are also promoting construction of toilets in households and also in schools. Last year, we constructed almost 100 low-cost toilets for individual households. Twenty sanitation blocks (bio-digester technology) under Swachh Bharat campaign are under construction in 10 schools in Odisha.
We are also enabling provision of safe drinking water to the households and schools in villages in Cuttack and Midnapore.
Education: Education is an important facet of development. Hence, our CSR initiatives focus on education of children around our areas. We are running 18 remedial coaching centres to help and support around 900 school students in their studies, each year. We are also running five bridge course centres in tribal areas of Cuttack to help reduce the dropout of students from schools. Sometimes, we also enable BPL students for getting enrolled for higher education. Last year, we supported eight BPL students to take admission in KISS, Bhubaneswar and also helped 73 poor and meritorious students for perusing higher education. Career counselling is essential for students, especially in rural areas where parents are not in educated. We are running a Career Counselling programme in collaboration with Nirmaan, an NGO for youth in our neighbouring villages in Lanjiberna and Rajgangpur. The programme has benefited more than 6,000 young people.
Livelihood and skill development: Our efforts in this area are as focused as importance of this field in developing of an area. One of the major programmes in this field by OCL is running the Dalmia Private Industrial Training Institute (DITI) Rajgangpur. The ITI was established in 1995 and is run by a staff of 25 people and offers five technical courses. We have trained around 2,000 people in the five trades and more than 65 per cent of them are employed.
We also collaborate with other organisations like IL&FS, I-LEAD, RSETI, government ITIs, and enable the youth in our villages to attend technical trainings in their centres. Last year, we assisted more than 150 youth to get training through these centres. Currently, 10 girls from villages in Cuttack are undergoing training on bed side nursing under I-Lead at Berhampur.
Through our CSR programmes, we have formed around 350 SHGs of village women. These women are regularly supported in the skill training on running an SHG, saving and linking with banks. They are also provided vocational and skill development training on tailoring, dress designing, phenyl making, badi and papad making, artificial jewellery making, candle making etc. Around 200 SHGs have been given skill development training.
Many women from these SHGs have started their own business ventures. Two phenyl making units have been set up by two members each. Each of them is earning more than Rs 4,000 per month. They have also generated employment by hiring some women from their SHGs and a local person for marketing. Tailoring shops, snacks centre, sauce, squash and pickle unit, artificial jewellery, dry snacks and many other ventures have been opened by the SHG women. They sell their materials locally and also in local fairs and festivals. The increase in income ranges from Rs 12,000 to Rs 30,000 per year.
Soil & water conservation: Under soil and water conservation, we are constructing and deepening farm ponds and village ponds, repairing and building new tube wells and also renovating dug wells. These structures have helped to meet the water requirement of the villagers for household and agricultural uses.
Sports promotion: We are also promoting sports among the children and youth at school, college and village level. We have provided training to 50 rural youths of below 14 years of age on hockey coaching in Lanjiberna area. Out of these, 10 candidates were selected for state level coaching at Sports Hostel, Rourkela. An inter-village Dalmia Cup Hockey Tournament is organised every year with participation of 34 teams from nearby villages. Also, inter-village Dalmia Cup Football Tournament with 32 teams and OCL Cup Hockey Tournament with 20 teams are also organised in Rajgangpur and Lanjiberna. We also supported 80 youths to participate in district and state level sports events under Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan in Rajgangpur area. Apart from these, many inter and intra school sports tournaments are organised and sports materials are also distributed in schools and villages.
Rural infrastructure development: OCL also contributes in the infrastructure development of the area. We have built and renovated many schools, roads, community centres, market sheds, etc in the neighbouring areas. Dalmia Bharat Group Foundation (DBGF) has started implementing the CSR programmes of OCL from the current financial year. The programmes would now be aligned to DBGF´s four focus areas viz, soil and water conservation, energy conservation, livelihood skill training and social development.
What are your priorities while framing a CSR plan? On what basis do you select these activities?
Aiming at a holistic development of people in our programme areas, our programme priorities are decided through an extremely participative action. The beneficiaries of our programme, thus, are the principal stakeholders who identify and prioritise their needs, based on which, suitable projects are designed. We act only as facilitators in the process. Sustainability of any initiative remains high on our agenda as we aim at making the projects self-sustainable. Having done that over the years, our focus has sharpened on issues like skilling people for livelihood, health and sanitation, education and on infrastructure development.
Apart from doing good to the society, CSR helps the contributing organisation too in several ways. Please list some of the benefits that you have realised.
Our CSR is fundamentally aimed at doing good to the society. However, the important spin-off of doing good CSR is that you get the social licence to operate. Moreover, it does ward off certain business risks as well. For instance, it is an obvious desire of the neighbouring community to get a direct employment in our facilities. There is, though, a limit to the number of people that we could employ and that could potentially lead us in to a possible conflict with the community. Because of our skill training initiatives, especially through the state-of-the-art Industrial Training Institute that we have set up at Rajgangpur, we have been able to assist the communities to be prepared for other opportunities as well. That way, we have been able to avoid any undesirable situation that could adversely affect the communities or our business. Same way, we are working on an ambitious Livelihood Restoration Plan at our Bengal cement works in association with IFC.